Coroner critical over 'ice challenge' death

The chief coroner has criticised a Northland doctor and the district health board for failing to notify his office about the death of Willis Tepania, who died after doing an ice challenge and drinking bourbon.

The Herald revealed yesterday that Mr Tepania, 40, had completed an "ice challenge" last Saturday night before consuming a large volume of Jim Beam, possibly as much as a litre in a matter of minutes.

About five hours later he suffered a heart attack and died on Monday night in Whangerei Hospital.

The death was not referred to the coroner in a timely manner and paper work was not filed until after Mr Tepania's funeral, the coroner's office has revealed.

The ice challenge involves someone submerging themselves in ice cold water or having a bucket of ice water poured over them.

They then nominate others to take the challenge and make a donation to charity.

In many cases, participants combine the stunt with alcohol.

Yesterday, Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean said he was concerned by Northland DHB's response.

"It seems a doctor was prepared to sign a death certificate in circumstances that, in my opinion, were not appropriate. I am satisfied there are issues surrounding the death that meant the duty coroner should have been notified promptly."

The standard report of death form had not been sent for some days.

"My office will be raising the matter with the Northland Chief Medical Officer," he said.

Last night, the Northland DHB chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain said: "We were unaware that the patient had participated in the 'Ice Challenge' which, had we known, would have triggered notification immediately to the Coroner's office.

"There are absolutely no issues with our clinical care."

- By Sam Boyer of NZ Herald

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