Police seek monster slide owner

By Staff Reporter -
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GUILTY: Eric Mitchell Gerritsen, 51, of Cambridge, outside the Hamilton District Court in September with his representative, Christian Kohai.
GUILTY: Eric Mitchell Gerritsen, 51, of Cambridge, outside the Hamilton District Court in September with his representative, Christian Kohai.

The owner of the Monster Slide that collapsed in Masterton this year has been found guilty of obstructing a health and safety inspector - and police are looking to arrest him.

Eric Gerritsen, 51, failed to appear in the Hamilton District Court yesterday morning, after failing to appear last month as well.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

The slide collapse occurred on the Mammoth Slide at the Masterton Trust House A&P Show at the Solway Showgrounds on February 21.

The 8m tall inflatable slide, called "The Mammoth" and touted as "the world's tallest in New Zealand", abruptly tipped on its side, spilling more than a dozen children to the ground. Six children were taken to Wairarapa Hospital with cuts and bruises.

Witnesses described the slide "caving in" and falling to one side, before reinflating upright again. The slide was closed, with a WorkSafe inspector spending several hours looking over the slide with Mr Gerritsen.

In court, Judge Garry Collin said Gerritsen had without reasonable excuse delayed WorkSafe's investigation.

The warrant to arrest was issued for unpaid fines and failing to appear in court.

The Times-Age can now report Gerritsen was arrested on Friday last week at what was supposed to be a scheduled court appearance.

NZ Herald reporter Belinda Feek, who was waiting to cover his appearance, said Gerritsen's "power of attorney", Christian Kohai, confirmed Gerritisen was arrested outside court on a matter of unpaid fines.

At his first court date in September, Gerritsen waited outside court while Mr Kohai attempted to have the charges dismissed.

Mr Kohai was issued a warning for interrupting the judge and WorkSafe's lawyer. Afterwards, Gerritsen told the reporter WorkSafe had been obstructing him, and wouldn't return his calls. He said the children weren't badly injured and "were back at the show later on".

Additional reporting, Newstalk ZB

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