Charges laid over rock climbing tragedy

The Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits and Education Centre has been charged over the deaths of an instructor and two students in a rock-climbing accident at Paritutu Rock.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Health and Safety group laid four charges in the New Plymouth District Court today alleging the centre failed in its safety obligations to its employees and students.

Spotswood College students Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye and Brazilian exchange student Joao Felipe Martins De Melo, both 17, were swept off the rock and into the sea on an outing in bad weather on August 8.

Bryce John Jourdain, 42, an instructor with the group, dived into the water in an attempt to save the students but also died.

The centre is charged with:

* failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee Mr Jourdain

* failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that a volunteer instructor from Germany was not exposed to hazards of high and powerful seas in his place of work

* failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of its employee while at work harmed any other person

* as a person who controlled a place of work failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no hazard that arose in the place of work - high and powerful seas - harmed people who were in the place with their express consent and who had paid to undertake an activity there.

The charges have been laid under Sections 6, 15 and 16, with a maximum penalty $250,000; and Section 50, with a maximum penalty $500,000.

A ministry spokesman would not say why no charges had been laid over the boys' deaths and said now the case was before the court, they would not comment further.

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