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Published: 2013-04-11 00:00:00

The driver of a ski boat, which was dangerously towing a female ski biscuit rider when she struck a bridge pile, has been hit with fines, costs and reparation totalling more than $4000.

Daniel Willis was convicted in the Tauranga District Court of dangerously operating his boat on Lake Karapiro and then failing to report the incident to Maritime New Zealand.

The convictions and fines handed down by Judge Robert Wolff came after a prosecution by the Waikato Regional Council under the Maritime Transport Act. It related to two separate incidents involving Willis in the vicinity of the Horahora Domain in January last year.

Willis was operating his father’s boat and had taken a group of friends ski biscuiting on Lake Karapiro. The first incident occurred when one of the biscuit riders being towed narrowly missed striking a protruding branch in an inlet which was a prohibited zone for power driven vessels.

The second incident occurred a short time later as Willis was towing another rider under the nearby Horahora bridge going at well in excess of the five knot speed restriction in that area. He failed to ensure the female rider was lined up correctly behind the boat as he passed underneath the bridge causing her to hit one of the bridge’s concrete pillars. She needed hospital treatment for a serious injury to her left ankle.

At sentencing, Judge Wolff commented that it was only because of the way the woman was positioned on the ski biscuit at the time that she was able to avoid more serious injury.

Willis was fined a total of $1000 for these incidents and ordered to pay reparation to the female rider of $2350.

Judge Wolff fined him a further $500 for then failing to report the matter to Maritime New Zealand, commenting how important reporting was when it came to Maritime New Zealand identifying hazards and risks, and preventing further incidents.

The maximum penalty available under the Maritime Transport Act is a $10,000 fine and one year imprisonment.

Waikato Regional Council navigation safety manager Nicole Botherway said: “The behaviour of this boatie could easily have resulted in a fatality. We encourage people to have fun on the water, but putting people at this kind of risk is unacceptable.”