Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Tree planter 'stable, settled' after cliff fall

The forestry worker is winched up from the accident scene near Hawai. Photo / Tauranga Trustpower Helicopter
The forestry worker is winched up from the accident scene near Hawai. Photo / Tauranga Trustpower Helicopter

A 21-year-old forestry worker is "stable and settled" in intensive care after falling up to 200m down a cliff face yesterday.

The Rotorua man was replanting pine tress for Tauranga-base Hancock Timber Resource Group about 4km inland from Hawai, north of Opotiki, when he lost his footing about 12.30pm yesterday.

St John Ambulance staff managed to get to the man and stabilise him before the Tauranga TrustPower TECT Rescue Helicopter winched him up and flew him to Whakatane Hospital in a critical condition.

He was then transferred to Tauranga Hospital.

This morning he was in a "stable, settled and fair" condition in the hospital's intensive care unit, a Bay of Plenty District Heath Board spokeswoman said.

Helicopter pilot Art Kowalski said the man was "very, very lucky that he didn't hit any rocks" when he fell.

The worker was "quite banged up" with a broken leg, a broken collarbone and head and neck pain as he had taken "quite a good blow to the head as he fell down".

St John spokesman Mark Tregoweth said the man had critical injuries when paramedics arrived.

The private road was cordonedoff for several hours to allow roomfor emergency services to leave quickly.

Hancock general manager Bill McAllum confirmed the man was a contractor planting pines at a Maori lease forest block in Haupoto, about 40km from Opotiki.

Representatives of the company visited the accident site yesterday afternoon and were conducting an investigation along with its contractor.

Management expected to receive a report on the fall this morning and would release more information.

Meanwhile, the Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance was also called out to Opotiki at 9am yesterday after a 30-year-old forestry worker lost four fingers when his right hand became wedged between machinery used to lift up the logs and the wire which secures them.

Pilot Loren Haisley said helicopter crew met the man at the Opotiki airfield and he was lucid.

He said the wire had just "snapped his fingers off".

"He was calm, not overreacting or any serious response or anything like that."

The man was flown to Waikato Hospital.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 01 Oct 2014 22:59:40 Processing Time: 404ms