Waikato river drowning



  • my comment first, then the news story detail.

    IMO it's a senseless tragedy, first the people swimming there disregarding the warnings and so must take blame, and will carry this with them forever. However, it's summer and the evidence is that many people swim there.

    for me th thing that sticks out is the timing of releasing the water...prime swimming or visiting time when the day is hottest. why don't they release the water at 10pm, 12am, 2am? Or would that be too logical, or off peak electricity?? Really a shame for this woman and her family.

    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11795629
    this is what happened and the proceedures in place:
    Mercury Energy is reviewing its procedures to see if it can improve safety after a woman was swept to her death by the surging waters of the Waikato River yesterday.

    The woman, believed to be in her early 20s, was one of a group swimming in the river shortly before midday. Four were swept away when the Aratiatia Dam gates opened sending waters of up to 90,000 litres a second downstream.

    Power authorities open the Aratiatia Dam floodgates upstream several times a day. In the summer, they are released at 10am, midday, 2pm and 4pm.

    A siren sounds before the water is released and there are signs warning people of the danger and not to swim there.



  • The release is nothing to do with dam operations. They're so people can view the rapids which aren't unless water is flowing.

    No point releasing at night when you can't see them.

    They were morons.



  • Unrelated to this story but I went out to Piha yesterday and went for a paddle - fuck me why does anyone swim there? It wasn't even that rough but I could feel the undertow dragging at my feet when the waves went out. Great for surfing and bodyboarding but far out swimming there is fraught with danger - must be a nightmare for the lifeguards on duty.

    Back on topic, this is a tragic story but there's only so much authorities can do to save people from themselves. If there's already warning signs telling people not to swim there, what else can you do?



  • ok, it was 3am when I posted it, I must have missed where the point of the release is for the rapids. yes, morons to swim there. shame, though



  • @No-Quarter that Piha Rescue program gives you fair warning how bad it can be...gotta feel for the Lifeguards, so many idiots rescued after hours, there is no helping some.

    I was at Ruakaka beach yesterday, Lifeguards on Patrol, plane in the sky going up and down the coast (only assume was on Shark watch as they had a warning on SaturdaY) and IRB's going up and down as well, yet still more people swimming well outside the flags, in an area where someone was lost last week to a rip.



  • Man I wish stories like this were angled and finished with 'don't be a fucktard' rather than Mercury Energy (or whoever) 'reviewing their processes'. I mean FFS. They have signs. They have a siren. If people choose to ignore both, entirely their own fault.



  • @Mokey

    Yep, can't help but feel thge story would be a lot more useful if it was slanted as "do dumb stuff, die, take some personal responsibility idiots". Harsh on the family, but it might make the odd moron think twice in future. As it is it reads as "they were unlucky & Mercury are reviewing things to see where they (Merc) fucked up"



  • This was one I saw yesterday in the same vein
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/89134745/man-seriously-injured-in-waterfall-jump-at-omanawa-falls-in-bay-of-plenty

    I hadn't heard of Omanawa Falls before despite living around the area so looked it up.

    From what I can gather there is no public access, there is a small hydro dam and no swimming signs, there is no track down to the water (you have to scramble down a very steep bush bank), the old viewing platform at the top has been closed for safety issues.

    This is on Waterfalls.co.nz

    Important! There used to be public access to the viewing point above the falls, but this is no longer considered safe. The entrance to the park is now closed with several warning signs and extra gates. Omanawa Falls is a beautiful site but one that will require a significant amount of investment before it can be safely opened for public access. Tauranga City Council plans to consider funding upgrades at the next Long Term Plan (LTP) in 2018. (c) Tauranga City Council

    However, this is one of those places that does the rounds on backpacker blogs and facebook pages as some kind of secret/special/free tourist attraction which causes the landowners nearby no end of problems with dipshit tourists wandering through their properties wanting a swim. Signs and gates and fences are all being ignored because being a free thinking tourist apparently makes you safe.

    Also saw this in the BOP local rag

    A person has been rescued from Omanawa Falls this evening after being injured in a fall.
    A rescue helicopter was called in to transport the injured patient to hospital.
    A caller to the 0800 SUNLIVE news hotline says a rescue helicopter was hovering in the area.
    She says a group of 10 people pushed through her property with togs, despite security fences.
    It's unclear what injuries the patient sustained in the fall.



  • The story in the local newspaper yesterday quoted some German tourists who were witnesses to the event. They said the girls were standing on a rock taking fuckin' selfies AFTER the gates had been opened and the water level was rising. 😲



  • @Bovidae said in Waikato river drowning:

    The story in the local newspaper yesterday quoted some German tourists who were witnesses to the event. They said the girls were standing on a rock taking fuckin' selfies AFTER the gates had been opened and the water level was rising. 😲

    Now I feel sad more didn't die.

    Tho' its probaly an excellent advert for waterproof & shockproof phones.



  • 2017 Darwin Awards must be coming up soon





  • Death by stupidity. That they were using selfie sticks just underlines that.

    If people are going to ignore signs and sirens there isn't much else you can do.



  • @Kirwan said in Waikato river drowning:

    Death by stupidity. That they were using selfie sticks just underlines that.

    If people are going to ignore signs and sirens there isn't much else you can do.

    No mention of Health and Safety yet.

    It will come I'm sure, although there is a strong argument that damn near everything that could have been done, was. Damn near doesn't always cut it though...



  • @nzzp said in Waikato river drowning:

    @Kirwan said in Waikato river drowning:

    Death by stupidity. That they were using selfie sticks just underlines that.

    If people are going to ignore signs and sirens there isn't much else you can do.

    No mention of Health and Safety yet.

    It will come I'm sure, although there is a strong argument that damn near everything that could have been done, was. Damn near doesn't always cut it though...

    I'm all for health and safety and avoiding risks etc, but you can't protect people from themselves sometimes...



  • I'm torn 50/50 between thinking Darwin Awards and thinking this thread is further confirmation that there's too many grumpy old buggers on TSF.



  • @Godder said in Waikato river drowning:

    @nzzp said in Waikato river drowning:

    @Kirwan said in Waikato river drowning:

    Death by stupidity. That they were using selfie sticks just underlines that.

    If people are going to ignore signs and sirens there isn't much else you can do.

    No mention of Health and Safety yet.

    It will come I'm sure, although there is a strong argument that damn near everything that could have been done, was. Damn near doesn't always cut it though...

    I'm all for health and safety and avoiding risks etc, but you can't protect people from themselves sometimes...

    I agree, but worksafe don't always.



  • @Kirwan said in Waikato river drowning:

    Death by stupidity. That they were using selfie sticks just underlines that.

    If people are going to ignore signs and sirens there isn't much else you can do.

    Too right. I understand Mercury saying they will conduct a review but you can't legislate stupid



  • @Donsteppa said in Waikato river drowning:

    I'm torn 50/50 between thinking Darwin Awards and thinking this thread is further confirmation that there's too many grumpy old buggers on TSF.

    Not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts ...



  • I think, given that there are reports of other people swimming there, that more should have been done to make it abundantly clear no swimming is allowed, and why.

    on another note, excessive dairy farming and irrigation in Canterbury is destroying the rivers, in this case...
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/89159663/swimming-hole-on-canterburys-selwyn-river-reaches-record-low-and-nearly-stagnant

    real shame, one of the enjoyable things growing up was swimming in rivers



  • @Wairau you see signs at beaches saying only swim between the flags, or the shark sign and yet people still swim outside the flags and in spite of warnings.

    You simply cannot account for every person to abide by the rules, yes it is a tragedy and inevitably people look to blame someone, usually anyone other than the victim...



  • @taniwharugby said in Waikato river drowning:

    @Wairau you see signs at beaches saying only swim between the flags, or the shark sign and yet people still swim outside the flags and in spite of warnings.

    You simply cannot account for every person to abide by the rules, yes it is a tragedy and inevitably people look to blame someone, usually anyone other than the victim...

    In defence of swimming despite warning signs there is a beautiful waterfall in the Grampions national park in Victoria. Mackenzie falls I think it's called, talking to the locals they say its a great place to swim however as it turns out swimming is not allowed. The reason being a couple kids died a few years back and from what I can tell its just a massive overreach by the fun police. There were about 40 people swimming there when I visited, the only thing that I can pick up as being dangerous is that the rocks are slippery but that's to be expected being nature and all and not a public swimming pool. I think it's this overreach on safety which results in a desensitisation towards warning signs.



  • @Rembrandt no win situation then is it.

    Authorities do what they deem is right, accidents happen when people ignore the signs, then they get blame for not doing more?



  • oh and also apparently just before we arrived a group was screaming at some swimmers chastising them for 'disrespecting our culture!'. Unfortunately they had gone by the time we got down there so didn't get any info on the ethnicity of the protestors. There certainly wasn't any information about it being a culturally sensitive site and I wasn't able to google up anything either, definitely a possibility that they just assumed it was the case for the no swimming signs.



  • @taniwharugby Yep. Though it would be great to have some sort of decent criteria for 'no swimming'. I wonder what the warning signs said in the waikato? I think the Mackenzie falls should have been fine with a 'careful wet rocks can be slippery' sign. alt text



  • @Rembrandt do you watch the Piha Rescue programme? Sadly in some cases they might need signs that say 'if you cant swim, stay out of the water'

    Is no account for stupidity or naivety unfortunately, as was the tone of my post, you can only do so much before people make their own decisions to take the risk, despite any warnings.



  • @Rembrandt said in Waikato river drowning:

    @taniwharugby Yep. Though it would be great to have some sort of decent criteria for 'no swimming'. I wonder what the warning signs said in the waikato? I think the Mackenzie falls should have been fine with a 'careful wet rocks can be slippery' sign.

    0_1486942046667_upload-7561f603-01bd-4d08-a28e-770c0d701b9e
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/89124567/search-for-up-to-four-people-swept-down-waikato-river-near-lake-taupo

    and

    0_1486942075266_upload-d8d89273-732f-454a-b3c4-1da42ac0f6f1



  • @nzzp well that certainly is a number of warnings to ignore! Only thing I'd change is the wording to 'water WILL rise' and some reference to the meaning of the siren. Totally different from the standard 'no swimming' sign at the falls i visited without any further specific warnings.



  • Yeah maybe they need a graphic that shows how high the water might get or something...

    But ultimately people are going to do what they do in spite of whatever signs/warnings exist. As several posters have said you can only go so far to protect against stupid/careless actions.

    I recall all sorts of antics when I was younger and dumber - esp up around Otaki river/forks. Lots of gnarly places to do sick bombs. But no matter how boozed or otherwise la la'd we were, we always checked depth and for rocks and stuff. Just basic stuff to make sure you have fun rather than a bad time.



  • I channel my inner Donald Trump to say "BUILD A WALL!"



  • Shit, I've swum quite a few times at the Aratiatia dam before when younger, it is an awesome spot. Still try and stop there whenever I'm in NZ and driving from HB to north of Taupo.

    If you just obey the sign regarding the times its perfectly safe.....and even if you don't, from when the siren goes off until when the waters get very rough its about 5 minutes. And it takes about 20 seconds to get out from the best swimming spot, which is the pool right under the road bridge to the power station itself.



  • @TeWaio So basically as long as you aren't hanging around for that 'me surrounded by raging rapids' selfie you're sweet?



  • @canefan said in Waikato river drowning:

    @TeWaio So basically as long as you aren't hanging around for that 'me surrounded by raging rapids' selfie you're sweet?

    Exactly! @Neptune #ragingtorrent and so forth...



  • Thanks for posting the warning signs @nzzp. I consider the DOC sign to be completely inadequate.

    • There is no mention of floodgates regularly opening. That would be enough to put off most people.

    • There is no mention of warning sirens. Presumably Ms De Jong and her friends had no idea what the sirens meant when they went off.

    • Instead of the very mild "Water level may rise" how about "Raging torrents several times a day"

    • It only says swimming is not advised. This pretty weak considering the situation there and a previous drowning.



  • @piffle said in Waikato river drowning:

    Thanks for posting the warning signs @nzzp. I consider the DOC sign to be completely inadequate.

    • There is no mention of floodgates regularly opening. That would be enough to put off most people.

    • There is no mention of warning sirens. Presumably Ms De Jong and her friends had no idea what the sirens meant when they went off.

    • Instead of the very mild "Water level may rise" how about "Raging torrents several times a day"

    • It only says swimming is not advised. This pretty weak considering the situation there and a previous drowning.

    Risk of drowning, swimming not advised not enough of a warning? Should they have made the sign in crayon for milllenial stupidity?



  • @Kirwan said in Waikato river drowning:

    @piffle said in Waikato river drowning:

    Thanks for posting the warning signs @nzzp. I consider the DOC sign to be completely inadequate.

    • There is no mention of floodgates regularly opening. That would be enough to put off most people.

    • There is no mention of warning sirens. Presumably Ms De Jong and her friends had no idea what the sirens meant when they went off.

    • Instead of the very mild "Water level may rise" how about "Raging torrents several times a day"

    • It only says swimming is not advised. This pretty weak considering the situation there and a previous drowning.

    Risk of drowning, swimming not advised not enough of a warning? Should they have made the sign in crayon for milllenial stupidity?

    probably should have written the sign in txt format with a ton of # as well

    #dntswimhere#ntsafeaye#avoidbruh#trumpsux


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