Court judgement a stark reminder about towing safety

5 September 2014

A judgement handed down today in Wagga Wagga Local Court is a stark reminder to boaters about the need to follow towing safety rules when out on the water.

A 34-year-old father of three children was killed in February last year after he hit a tree while waterskiing at the Colombo Creek Ski Club Reserve in south western NSW

Today the skipper who was towing him in a motorboat without the legally required third person to act as an observer, was convicted of negligent navigation causing death. He received a 15 month good behaviour bond and a three month boating licence suspension.

Roads and Maritime Services Maritime Director Angus Mitchell said boaters involved in towing sports like water-skiing and wakeboarding must ensure an observer is present before even considering towing someone.

“Vessel operators must understand it is impossible for one person to keep a proper lookout in two different directions – the observer on board performs a critical function and may save a life,” Mr Mitchell said.

“Major safety risks to small craft also are present when towing in high volume waterways and boaters must ensure they always keep to the right.

“It is also illegal to tow more than three people at a time even with an observer on board and those being towed must wear a lifejacket at all times.

“Vessel operators also need to remember it is against the law to tow between sunset and sunrise and they must always maintain a safe distance from the shore.

“The bottom line is skippers are responsible for the safety of their boat, all on board and the people being towed,” he said.

The Roads and Maritime Services Maritime Investigations Unit helped NSW Police investigators in presenting and providing evidence which was used in the court case.

For more information on towing safety, go to 

CONTACT: Roads and Maritime Services Media Unit: 8588 5999

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