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Published: 2013-11-22 00:00:00

A jet skier received serious injuries and thought he was going to die after being struck by a power boat on the Waikato River in Hamilton.

The driver of the boat was convicted of dangerously operating his boat by Judge Denise Clark in the Hamilton District Court yesterday. He was fined $2000 and ordered to pay $750 reparation to the victim.

The case against Stuart Billington was taken by the Waikato Regional Council under the Maritime Transport Act following the December 2012 incident near the Pukete boat ramp.

The 41 year old male victim was an experienced jet ski operator who was on the river conducting tests on his ski. As he began making a u-turn back towards the boat ramp he was struck with what he described as “phenomenal force” by Mr Billington’s passing boat.

The victim was thrown back into the water and suffered serious internal injuries (including multiple fractured ribs, a fractured sternum, collapsed lung, lacerated spleen and liver, internal bleeding and severe bruising).

At sentencing Judge Clark commented that the victim impact statement made for “harrowing reading”. The victim described how he thought he was going to die and wondered if he would see his pregnant wife and young daughter again.

At the time of the collision Mr Billington was travelling at between 20 and 25 knots (37-46 km/hr) and attempting to pass the victim’s jet ski from behind. Safe practise and navigation safety regulations impose a 5 knot speed restriction in such circumstances.

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

Waikato Regional Council investigation manager Patrick Lynch said: “This incident could easily have resulted in a fatality. This is a case of travelling way too fast, way too close. As summer approaches and activities on our waterways increase we urge boaties to look out for, and be considerate of, other water users.”