Family members of a Northland father and son caught in rough
weather when their jetski broke down headed back out to
retrieve the jetski after the rescue.
About midday yesterday a 55-year-old Northland man and his
15-year-old son left from Langs Beach to go to McKenzie Bay
on the east coast, south of Whangarei, on their jetski to
check three crayfish pots.
When they failed to return an hour later another person went
out on a jetski to search for them. Police were alerted just
after 3pm after he failed to find them.
Police search and rescue, the Whangarei and Kawau
coastguards, Waipu Surf Lifesaving clubs, and the Northland
electricity rescue helicopter then joined the search.
At 5.45pm the missing father and son were located by the
helicopter 2.5km offshore just north of the Waipu River
They were still with the jetski. The 15-year-old boy was
winched onto the helicopter and the man was picked up by the
The father had suffered no ill-effects from the four hour
ordeal, but the boy was very cold and had early signs
After the rescue of the father and son, some family members
went back out into the rough ocean on another jetski to
retrieve the one that had broken down, police said.
Police search and rescue incident controller constable Sue
Grocott said this action was "completely irresponsible,
considering two family members had just been rescued from
rough sea and were lucky to survive.''
Northland police search and rescue co-ordinator senior
sergeant Cliff Metcalfe said the rescue of the father and son
showed the "sheer stupidity" of people going out in dangerous
conditions and defied logic.
"They put their lives and the lives of those rescuing them at
risk. Police are very disappointed in their actions and a
family nearly lost two of their members just two days before
Christmas. They are so lucky to have survived this ordeal."
Mr Metcalfe said the weather was so bad that the Coastguard
Rescue Centre was monitoring the marine conditions every 15
minutes to ensure the safety of their crew.
"Even the seagulls knew to stay on dry land. The conditions
were so marginal that we couldn't get a fixed wing aircraft
in the air to search and we were lucky to be able to use a
Mr Metcalfe said police were not called until two and a half
hours after the pair went missing - so the search had to
cover a wide area of 77 square nautical miles.
"The trained police officer who was looking for the jetski
from the helicopter just spotted it as the helicopter was
"A boat would probably have never found them in those
Ms Grocott said the incident was a timely reminder for people
to check the marine forecast before heading out on the water.
and definitely not to venture out in rough seas.
She says the jetski broke down while out checking the
craypots and it hadn't been serviced since last summer.
"People need to have their boats checked before taking them
out to make sure they're seaworthy."
Ms Grocott says the pair had no marine radio, cellphone,
flares or emergency beacon.
"It's essential to have some form of communication, so if you
get into trouble you can be located easily."
Ms Grocott said if people get into difficulty on the water
then they should call police for help sooner rather than
"This means we have a smaller search area to cover and
there's less chance of people making the wrong decisions and
getting into more trouble.
The only saving grace was the pair were wearing surf wetsuits
and lifejackets, she said.
Last year 14 people drowned in Northland and five have
drowned in the year-to-date.