Committing suicide . . . & Supposed Murderer Railroaded

Discussion in 'Paddling Safety' started by mick_allen, Nov 10, 2017.

  1. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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  2. Roy222

    Roy222 Paddler

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    I guess he did not know about the drain plug, but is lack of knowledge stupidity?
    No, but going on the water without knowledge is stupid.
     
  3. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    The woman is not a sympathetic subject but my judgement from afar is that she had minimal responsibility for his death and got railroaded by non-kayak authorities :

    -they were in crap rec kayaks with no spraydecks
    ActualKayak.jpg
    - my understanding is that they were of roughly equal minimal skills.
    - he was a willing participant in their outing
    - he chose not to wear a pfd.
    - the conditions were obviously terrible to anyone - "The conditions that day were very dangerous, the water was very cold, the water was very choppy, and there were also high winds"
    - how easy would it be for any of us as rank beginners to lose balance or make a mistake in such conditions?
    - the tiny, missing drain plug on the top of the rear deck would have no effect on the kayak taking on water before flipping.
    simkayak-drainplug.jpg
    - after flipping, the drain plug would not admit water [into the apparent [I'm reasonably sure here] sealed rear compartment] if the kayak was upside down and would take a looooong time of repeated immersions to trickle water into it if semi-upright.
    - with respect to pushing a paddle away from the victim in these conditions: 1)he would not know what to do with a paddle after dumping and 2) try making a long curved blade kayak paddle go anywhere you want it to - especially in contradition to waves and wind - it just won't: and one could easily say they then inadvertently 'pushed the paddle away'
    - doing yoga has repeatedly been promoted in paddling magazines as a way to relax and relieve stress - and I sure think that continuous, compelled 11 hour questioning sessions sure would build up the stress. I sure would be stretching and doing one heck of a lot of deep breathing if questioning on anything [even benign] lasted that long.

    And to her credit, she called authorities within 20 minutes.
    And I'm sure many of us have commented in one way or another that open kayaks with rookie paddlers not dressed for immersion or even safety are a recipe for disaster if they venture far afield - and these people were out in cold water in bad conditions.

    I feel slightly sorry for the subject [as she is sort of a whacko], but more sorry for the friends and family of the victim who don't understand [that based on the evidence that I think was shown] that she had virtually nothing to do with the death of their son and relative.

    **
    to anyone reading this, don't forget the almost identical scenario where 2 extreme adventure athletes [like they are/were the best of us] did essentially the exact same thing and paddled away from their 3 dumped companions in the hopes of calling for help in time - with the result that only one survived.
    They weren't interrogated for 11 hours, but I wonder how much differently they would have reacted in a foreign country if they had been.
    **
    So I guess what I wonder . . . are we the experts here? do we have some responsibility to say something? Or do we let sleeping dingbats lie?
     

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  4. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  5. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    To go off on a tangent somewhat, how do 'authorities' investigate incidents involving kayaks? Do they reach out to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) or do they make assumptions?

    The reason I ask is that in NZ we are currently chasing a report on a powerboat versus kayak collision, and the relevant authorities are keeping it very close to their chests, despite us (KASK, the Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers) filing an Official Information Act request. Normally reports are released to us as a matter of course, but not in this case.

    One of the very experienced kayakers involved is a police officer and was obviously a great witness. He has been very forthcoming to us as he had a friend killed a while ago in a kayak V powerboat collision, so has more than a vested interest.

    The problem is with the investigating agency, which is probably more geared to dealing with commercial shipping, not recreational kayaks.

    In a recent fatality, a hunter and fisherman wearing a T shirt, jeans and gumboots (Wellingtons), accidently washed out over a river bar.He was paddling a recreational kayak, ie three metres long, big open cockpit, no integral buoyancy.

    The coroner said the kayak ‘lacked a substantial keel or rudder and was not designed for efficient handling in turbulent waters.’

    The coroner also stated a crotch strap on a suitable lifejacket may have saved this bloke’s life, as his body was found wearing his buoyancy vest but it had ridden up when found on the beach!

    A crotch strap! Really?

    In another, fatal, incident that we have been studying it appears very little input was gained from SMEs, despite multiple offers.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/n...ts-dead-on-Lake-Tekapo-in-kayaking-expedition

    I have viewed some of the evidence (a person has been convicted, but an appeal has been launched and also the coroner hasn't decided yet on holding an inquest) and it obviously had no one with any paddling experience look over it.

    Previously I have presented evidence at a coronial inquest, and the coroner was very pleased to have my input. That is the exception rather than the rule.

    Any suggestions on how we, as skilled and knowledgeable practitioners of kayaking, can be heard?
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    JKA, not sure there is anything comparable in NZ, but in our highly litigious society in the US, "expert witnesses" are numerous, various specialties, and for hire to give testimony on all manner of judgments. The big money goes for medical settlements, but aside from the bother and the scarcity of credentialing bodies, it can be a useful role, and perhaps enough to fund a few pints.

    Like you, it frosts me to read the shallow analysis typical in news articles, when someone with five two-day paddletrips, two of them guided, is typified as "an experienced kayaker."
     
  7. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

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    Firstly, here’s a few more news reports with some sentencing info about the New York ‘Kayak Murder’ incident:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/interrogation-video-raises-key-questions-in-new-york-kayak-murder-case/





    And lastly, CBS did a whole episode on the affair –it is up on youtube in 6 sections:

    1:

    2:

    3:

    4:

    5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6qb3ADqd3E

    6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJrlvF0Iev0

    So to some degree, concerns about the whole affair have been made known, but obviously have had no impact on the whole affair

    **

    . . . . which leads into, secondly, JKA and Astoriadave’s general comments about ‘expert input’:

    If the investigative agency [and the charging agency if separate] don’t have some initial basic understanding of what kayaking issues are for beginners, then there is obviously very real time, money, and penalty consequences for some or all of the subsequent parties involved. How to get around that early stage, I sure don’t know – other than it beggars believe that a high percentage of citizens in cities that are on the margins of oceans or other large bodies of water just seem to be totally ignorant of what it means to be in port cities. Maybe one way around this, I think, is by modifying the procedure so that at least some knowledgeable input happens.

    By the time a trial comes around, much of this is too late and many people are already hurt much much more.

    **
    And thirdly, some comments on the Lake Tekapo [New Zealand] tragedy:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-hera...company-sentenced-over-his-part-in-fatal-trip

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11760774

    The owner’s [who was found $300k responsible] 3 main failings of
    • 1) No advice to stay visible and close to shore
    • 2) Not inquiring about their experience
    • 3) Not calling emergency quickly enough

    as well as having ‘little or no kayaking experience’ – seem like vacuous, inconsequential comments other than the ‘close to shore’ one. As he owned and operated a business on that lake, he was not some ingénue who was unaware of the water temperatures, changeable conditions, and that beginner users would be coming his way. Experience is obvious to any renter by the chatter, the way paddles are picked up and held, by the ease with which pfd’s are put on and adjusted, whether sprayskirts are asked for and put on – it’s obvious and not necessary to be asked in order to know - unless these were his very first renters. And to be told to be 'visible', how would one know if you’re not looking back and all around [well maybe].

    My reaction is that he knew the environment, the type of users that may come [this time or others], and that some of them have problems and fall in the water. As he didn’t provide hydrothermal protection, he had a fundamental responsibility to insist that all users stay close to shore unless he knew their capabilities were good enough to overcome ordinary existing and predictable environmental and thermal situations. He didn’t react to this and although most of the judgment reasons given don’t ring true, he has been sanctioned which seems appropriate.

    But he didn’t kill them, they should have been warned, but he didn’t kill them or contribute to their deaths. He just didn’t give care and responsibility to those that deserved to have it. Maybe fine lines and we can have a good conversation about where those lines are. I’m sort of on the side of personal responsibility for situations like this as well.

    **

    On the first incident that JKA mentions – the fisherman wearing a ridden up pfd – I agree that all the issues mentioned by the judge are ridiculous. Anyone who paddles around current knows how instantly that beginners [and others, heh heh] – especially beginners – can get knocked over. Especially if an obstacle is encountered – like a sandbar, like a rock, like a submerged log, like a sweeper , like just about any intervention. Keels and rudders would be a further hazard in those conditions where obstructions are likely so they would not have helped.

    The wellington gumboots, however, would have been a real hazard in his ability to move around, swim and maybe avoid further catastrophe but there is not enough info to know. He was wearing a pfd, so he had a chance and I would like to presume that it rode up near the end or after his struggles – but that is unknown. It could have ridden up and been an issue [I’ve seen it happen], but on the whole is unlikely if it was his own pfd and so at least fit him to some degree.

    **

    Anyway, returning to the fundamental issue at the beginning of expert [or at least knowledgeable] input, maybe we should just speak up. I would guess that instructors that teach beginners in current may be the most qualified to understand what many of the issues are.
     
  8. AM

    AM Paddler

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    That Lake Takapo incident is an interesting case. Here's what got me:

    "At Timaru District Court today, [the outfitter] admitted having had "little or no kayaking or seafaring experience" and no qualifications or licence for his company's rescue boat which was not big enough for all 11 victims."

    Look up his rescue boat, which is just a tender: Smartwave 2400.
    Screenshot 2018-08-25 at 08.47.55.png


    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  9. JKA

    JKA Paddler

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    The Lake Tekapo tragedy is an interesting one, but the sentence is being appealed and it may yet go before a coroner, and I may be involved in that so I'm being a little cautious.

    The summary of facts stated, "The victims in fact had varied experience of kayaking. One victim was very experienced, ..."

    I have viewed video footage taken on the trip, and the paddler described as 'very experienced' would not fall into that category if observed by me, or any other truly experienced paddler. She showed familiarity with paddling, but that is a long way from the description used.
     
  10. AM

    AM Paddler

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    Keep us posted. I’m curious as to the outcome.
     
  11. designer

    designer Paddler

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    One little aspect of this store owner/customer relationship and responsibility for warning/instruction reminds me of the dynamic I discovered when - or really after - taking some first-aid classes. In the class, we took turns being the injured party and the responder. Throughout the class there was complete cooperation. Pseudo-injured parties turned, lifted, held still - as requested - as bandages/splits were being applied.

    But when aid-giving situations appeared in my life, NONE OF THAT was the case. In each case, the injured party denied offers of care and usually injury. When I walked out to the car for work one day, I saw my neighbor was pinned by his motorcycle that has tipped over. I lifted the metal so he could get his foot out. I offered to tape his ankle, drive him to an immediate care facility, etc. He said he was fine and raising the injured ankle, he hopped on the other leg from his driveway back to his house.

    Another time a XC skier fractured her ankle on a downhill turn that stopped in deep snow. But she "was fine". She refused a short ride on a snowmobile back to the parking lot. All I could convince her to do was give me her two quart water bottles to take some weight off her hips. She drove her StickShift home - and then took herself to immediately care where they treated her fractured ankle.

    So I think first aid/first responder classes should definitely discuss/cover the issue that usually the person needing the care will not be "cooperative" - what to do; where does responsibility begin and end.

    This is related to the shop owner responsibility because it could mean that any given advice is not wanted, not heeded, or even denied if an accident does occur. I would not be surprised if advising a renter who has a certain psychology would push then into not heeding it; "You're not the boss of me." attitude.

    My point is, thinking that all we have to do to avoid accidents is provide some verbal instruction at rental time is a bit naive. I'm sure we can come up with extreme cases - someone kayaking in winter in tee-shirt and shorts. But the majority of the time accertaining the skill level of someone standing in front of you can be darned difficult.

    If I was behind the counter in a 7-11 and a customer came in, brought a beer to the counter, flashed his driver's license and dropped cash on the counter for the beer - how much of a sobriety test am I required to give him before I sell the beer. What would you tolerate as a customer?

    Then you have the race complication - if a minority wanted to rent and was denied would you want to make your case in court that he wasn't rented to because you were able to determine his skill level by just talking to him vs his claim that you didn't rent to him because he was a minority.

    For my part, "I" want to be responsible for my actions. And I do listen to all the wisdom/advice/beta/local knowledge I can get. But I wouldn't go after a storekeeper who rented me a boat if I made a bad landing a hurt my arm. For some, it can be difficult to accept all the responsibility for their actions. But that are, after all, "their actions".

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
     
  12. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Paul raises an issue which I expect many have encountered: the uncooperative injured paddler who refuses first aid when those who know better are certain aid is needed. The key words are "know better." What seems to work best for me is to get out the supplies and equipment needed and begin, moving easily and with firm but encouraging language, going on the premise that 'tis easier to get forgiveness than permission. It is a rare victim who will vociferously resist aid. If you get one like that, he/she is stuck with a confrontation, as are you. In which event, you will have done what you could, and observers will agree at any inquest/review that the victim firmly refused reasonable aid. The one exception is an injury demanding oral or hypodermic administration of drugs. You better have their written consent in that event.
     
  13. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

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    Lake Tekapo incident - the island in question looks quite close, deceptively close, very deceptive. We have here, kids who don't appear to be out-door savvy. The trip to the island and back, non stop would, with their skill and kayaks used, take at least 4 hours. They are reported to have started at 2.00 p.m. I haven't heard how long their rental time was supposed to be. JKA? A time?

    I, with others, have paddled out to that island and back a few times, stopping for lunch, exploring it (largest pine cones ever on it), always in dead flat conditions. We have always started from up a side road making the distance half or less. Everyone has been an experienced paddler.

    To do it with the type of kayaks the kids used - forget it.

    Note - "kids", my grandchildren are older and my daughter has paddled in conditions that would have made their Tekapo trip look like calm.
    Start time - a photo posted on line of them before starting out had data showing just before 2.00 p.m.