A jet-boater died after he was crushed under a tree branch
when his boat crashed into a riverbank, a coroner has ruled.
Dale John Baker, 51, became wedged under the large tree
branch and was unable to be resuscitated by others in the
boat - including his partner Julie Williams - during a
jet-boating trip on the Ngaruroro River in Hawke's Bay on
He died at the scene.
Despite every effort to move the branch or the boat, nothing
could be done to save his Mr Baker's life, coroner CJ
Devonport said in a report into his death, released today.
Mr Baker was driving his boat Bang On with his partner in the
front passenger seat, and three other friends on board,
including a 12-year-old boy, when the crash occurred.
He lost control of the boat while attempting to find a way
out of a dead-end channel.
As he turned into another channel, one of the passengers
heard him say, 'oh s***', and try to put the boat into
reverse before crashing into the riverbank.
His partner, Ms Williams, said she remembered "ducking down
and the boat suddenly stopping".
When she looked up she saw Mr Baker lying backwards with a
branch, about 500mm in diameter, across his chest and with
his seat in a recline position, the coroner's report said.
His seat was trapping a passenger, Leanne Lilly, behind him,
who blacked out.
Ms Williams tried to reverse the boat back, activated a
personal locator beacon and called emergency services. Others
on the boat freed Ms Lily, but Mr Baker was unresponsive,
with blood coming from his mouth, nose and ears.
It was not until two boats arrived to help that they were
able to free Mr Baker, but he could not be resuscitated.
Forensic pathologist Dr Katherine White said the tree branch
had crushed his chest, fracturing his ribs and preventing him
from breathing. She gave the cause of death as traumatic
Coroner Devonport described Mr Baker's death as a "tragic
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ