Changes recommended following teen’s paddle board drowning

  • 01/04/2016

The drowning of a Waikato teenager while paddle boarding has prompted a coroner to recommend placing warning sings in high-risk areas.

Amy Russell, 15, died in the accident at Whangamata Harbour on January 7.

Ms Russell became caught in a strong current after falling from her board and became trapped under a yacht moored on the harbour.

Despite the efforts of people nearby, she was unable to be freed as the paddle board's leash was tightened around her foot and had become caught on the yacht’s keel.

Ms Russell was submerged for several minutes and was not able to be resuscitated.

Coroner Gordon Matenga found the leash Ms Russell was using contributed to her death because it was unable to be released in fast flowing water.

He recommended paddle boards be fitted with quick-release leashes, which can be detached from the paddler’s waist even in strong currents.

Mr Matenga also recommended the Waikato Regional Council place appropriate signage around Whangamata Harbour, warning paddle boarders of the dangers of the fast flowing currents and potentially unseen risks.

He also reminded people who use stand-up paddle boards to use appropriate life jackets for the activity, but pointed out that Ms Russell had been wearing an appropriate flotation device that did not contribute to her death.