Heart disease behind boating fatality

A decision not to wear a lifejacket may have contributed to the death of Wanaka man Murray Austin Rivers who was tipped out of his disabled jet-boat on the Makarora River last October.

Coroner David Crerar found Mr Rivers' death was due to ''ischaemic heart disease'' and the stress of recovering his jet-boat may have contributed to his death.

Mr Rivers and two companions had been jet-boating on the Makarora River.

While Mr Rivers' boat was being driven up the Wilkin River by a more experienced driver - Joshua Kingipotiki - it grounded on a sandbar and could not be restarted.

Mr Crerar said rather than seek help, the party paddled the boat back down the rivers for eight hours. At one point Mr Rivers and Mr Kingipotiki spent three hours negotiating a rapid.

''By this stage Murray Rivers was described as 'pretty puffed' and 'stuffed','' Mr Crerar said.

When the boat later hit a rock and the occupants were thrown out, two managed to rescue themselves but could not find Mr Rivers. His body was found the next day, snagged in a tree.

The boat had two lifejackets on board which were too small for Mr Rivers.

''If Murray Rivers had been wearing an appropriate lifejacket ... this may have given the necessary additional buoyancy he needed ... to effect a self-rescue,'' Mr Crerar said in his findings released this week.

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