Coroner not notified of Northland man's ice challenge death

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Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean was not notified of a Northland man's death after an ice challenge.
Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean was not notified of a Northland man's death after an ice challenge.

The Chief coroner has criticised the Northland doctor and the district health board for failing to notify his office about the death of a man who died after doing the ice challenge and drinking a large amount of spirits.

The Herald revealed this morning that Willis Tepania had done the ice challenge on Saturday night and followed it with a large amount of bourbon.

About five hours later he suffered a heart attack. It is understood he died in Whangerei Hospital on Monday night.

The death was not referred to the coroner in a timely matter and paper work was not filed until after Mr Tapania's funeral.

Today, Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean said he was "concerned" with the response to the death by Northland DHB staff.

"It seems a doctor was prepared to sign a death certificate in circumstances that, in my opinion, were not appropriate.

I am satisfied there are issues surrounding the death that meant the duty coroner should have been notified promptly," he said.

"It has also emerged that the standard report of death form that is prepared by the hospital for the duty coroner was prepared but not sent for some days. When the duty coroner was finally informed and took jurisdiction of the death, it emerged Mr Tepania's body was already buried.

"My office will be raising the matter with the Northland Chief Medical Officer," he said in a statement.

The case has been referred to Coroner Wallace Bain.

Northland DHB spokeswoman Liz Inch said the health board would not make any comment.

"This case is in the hands of the coroner".

- Northern Advocate

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