An inexperienced Auckland boatie who ran over a diver in the water has been ordered to pay $17,500 in reparation after the diver suffered serious injuries including a cut to the head that needed eight staples.
Carl Allan Whiteman pleaded guilty to one charge under the Maritime Transport Act of causing unnecessary danger or risk to any other person and was sentenced in the North Shore District Court today.
The diver was spear fishing with an orange buoy and blue and white dive flag between Ti Point and Omaha on February 5, 2017, when he was hit by Whiteman's 3.5m inflatable powerboat.
It was Whiteman's third or fourth time taking the boat out on the water.
The diver, a self-employed arborist from Auckland, suffered significant lacerations to his head and a broken arm and lacerations to his arm that required numerous stitches. As a result of his injuries he was unable to work for 12 months.
Whiteman and three passengers left the Omaha boat ramp in his 3.5 metre inflatable powerboat. He said he saw the orange buoy but did not "register" the dive flag on the buoy. He assumed the buoy marked a crayfish pot and did not alter course or slow down.
If the diver had been hit at a slightly different angle, this could easily have been a fatal accident, Maritime NZ Northern regional manager Neil Rowarth said.
"Recreational boaties must understand skipper responsibility.
"Every boat has a skipper, they are legally responsible for the safety of people in and around the boat, and must know the rules of the sea.
"In this case, the skipper was speeding and not keeping a proper lookout."
Whiteman turned his boat around to help the diver, and one of his three passengers called the police. They took the diver to Ti Point wharf where they were met by Police and an ambulance.
"The skipper was inexperienced and had no boating qualification," Rowarth said. "This was his first boat and only the third or fourth time he had taken it out on the water.
"I urge every new skipper to get training and help from a boat club or Coastguard Boating Education. It's not hard, it's not expensive and you get to meet boaties and have some fun learning.
"What you learn makes you, your family and friends, and others in the water safer – and if you see a dive flag, slow down."