Teen 'left his friend for dead'

A Queenstown teenager who fled, leaving his friend for dead, after a jet-skiing accident on Christmas Day will have to deal with the consequences of his actions for a very long time, Judge Dominic Flatley said.

Jamie Scott Ridgway (19), unemployed, appeared for sentencing in the Queenstown District Court yesterday, after admitting without lawful excuse, neglecting his legal duty to supply Connor Williams with the necessaries of life, so endangering Mr Williams' life.

Ridgway also appeared on the charge of criminal nuisance by doing an unlawful act, by failing to render assistance knowing that such act would endanger Mr Williams' life.

The court heard last month Ridgway had been behind Mr Williams (20), on the Kawarau River near Queenstown when Mr Williams turned sharply in front of him about 4pm.

Unable to avoid the jet ski, Ridgway ran over the top of Mr Williams, leaving him unconscious.

Ridgway fled at high speed.

After waking up on his back in the water, Mr Williams swam to shore and waited an hour for a passing boat. He then walked to the road and flagged down a car.

He was treated two days later in Dunedin Hospital for serious facial fractures.

Ridgway had returned home at 4.15pm to celebrate Christmas with family. At 8pm, he called police reporting Mr Williams missing, but did not admit to his part in the crash.

A full-scale search and rescue operation was mounted.

Defence counsel Phena Byrne said yesterday Ridgway had no desire to operate a jet ski again.

"He wakes up every day knowing he left his friend for dead and there's no going back from that."

Judge Flatley told Ridgway it was, "an awful situation, the worst nightmare and I imagine it will affect you for a very long time, and that's the penalty as far as I'm concerned.

"You panicked and you ran ...

"Unfortunately, you compounded the problem by not telling anyone."

The judge said he did not necessarily view Ridgway as a criminal.

"But the decision you made was wrong and you'll continue paying for it for a very long time."

Ridgway was sentenced to 12 months' supervision with psychological counselling and ordered to pay reparation of $2122.50 for search and rescue costs and directed to learn maritime safety.


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