Guide risked her life trying to save pupils

By James Ihaka, Beck Vass

Jodie Sullivan's life changed forever when seven people were swept to their deaths last April.

The young guide had been working at the centre for three months when she was stood down from the OPC after the deaths of seven people at the Mangatepopo River.

After the accident, she was supported by family in Stratford and had a short stint at Outward Bound in the South Island. It is understood she also spent some time catching up with friends and tramping.

She still works at OPC at Tongariro National Park but is no longer leading groups.

During sentencing of the OPC at the Auckland District Court yesterday, her lawyer William McCartney said she was in an unusual position because hers was the only individual name to appear on the charge sheets.

"She's been severely traumatised by what happened," he said.

"She did, in my submission, all she could to protect the group ... she was prepared to risk her own life to save them and in fact she did risk her own life to save them."

Miss Sullivan has consistently received support from the bereaved families and students involved and protective staff members.

Her boss, Dr Grant Davidson, said Miss Sullivan's decision to attend all of the victims' seven funerals showed "incredible fortitude and integrity".

And 15-year-old survivor Kish Proctor urged Miss Sullivan to continue her work with the OPC, saying she was "naturally gifted when it comes to the outdoors".

Judge Anne Kiernan said yesterday Miss Sullivan and her mother had spoken with OPC about the impact the tragedy had on their family. They are to meet again next month to consider her employment and discuss the possibility of assisting her with other costs.

- additional reporting by Beck Vass

- NZ Herald

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