The driver of a leisure boat in New Zealand has been ordered to pay NZ $16,000 (about £8,300) after ignoring a diver-down flag and inflicting head injuries on a surfacing scuba diver.
Also read: Improper use of SMBs and diver-down flags
The incident occurred in January 2022 near Little Barrier Island, a wildlife sanctuary off North Island’s north-eastern coast. Shane Hollinger was said by Maritime New Zealand, which brought the prosecution, to have been driving a 5m boat called Rain Or Shine at well over twice the permitted speed.
Hollinger’s victim had been in the water with other divers from a 7m Auckland-based dive RIB called AWOL and its skipper had put up the scuba flag to warn other boats. A speed limit of 5 knots should have applied within 200m of the flag, but although Rain Or Shine had slowed from its initial 18 knots it was still moving through the diving area at speeds of 10-13 knots (up to 15mph).
According to witnesses, AWOL’s skipper and other divers aboard had tried to make Hollinger aware of the danger but he had failed to comply. They then heard a bang and saw the diver surface and call for help. The diver was concussed and had sustained cuts to the head.
Hollinger has now been sentenced in Auckland District Court under the Maritime Transport Act for operating a vessel in a manner likely to endanger life. The penalty consisted of a $3,600 fine, with $10,000 in compensation to the diver for emotional harm and $2,429 for consequential losses.
“This was completely avoidable and needlessly put a diver at serious risk of injury,” said regulatory operations manager Jason Lunjevich of Maritime NZ.
Also on Divernet: Diver’s Wife Badly Hurt By Dive-Boat, Mexico Dive-Boat Prop Victims Named, Boat-Owner Sentenced For Death Of Diver-Friend, Prop Death – Dive Widower Files Lawsuit, No SMB So Prop-Death Captain Released