Boy's fall puts old site under scrutiny

By Lin Fergusonlin ferguson@wanganuichronicle co nz -
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The old Patea freezing works coolstores building the boy fell from.PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON
The old Patea freezing works coolstores building the boy fell from.PHOTO/LIN FERGUSON

A "massively dangerous" derelict Patea building will be urgently inspected this morning after an 8-year-old boy fell 7m from the roof to the ground on Sunday afternoon.

The boy, believed to be from the South Island and staying with a local family, was with a group of teenage boys when he fell.

Local man Tiki Munn said a large crowd of locals quickly gathered at the accident site on the Patea River after numerous calls from the cellphones of the older boys.

Patea St John Ambulance attended the boy and the Taranaki Community Rescue Helicopter was called to the Patea Rugby ground to airlift him to Taranaki Base Hospital. He was not badly hurt.

A rescue helicopter spokesman, who was on the job, said every time he saw the old building he thought "how massively dangerous" it was and that something should be done about it.

Mr Munn said even though there were clear "keep out" notices on the property, young people still went into the derelict building.

"About five years ago, an Auckland man bought the land, intending to make the building into huge coolstores. But because he didn't live in the town, the building was constantly vandalised."

Local children who live across the bridge near the river knew never to play there, he said.

"It's very dangerous ... but boys will be boys. They need to be told."

After lying unused since 1982, the Patea freezing works were damaged by fire in February 2008. Much of the old complex was destroyed, but the coolstores remain.

The South Taranaki District Council communications manager Gerard Langford said a building inspector would investigate the site today and ascertain what action, if any, can be taken under the Building Act.

"We are somewhat limited in what action we can take, due to it being private property.

"However, we have some powers in relation to dangerous buildings, such as the ability to make an owner put up warning signs or a fence."

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