Rock climbing tragedy company pleads guilty

Posted: June 12, 2013 by kirisyko in Climbing, Rock Climbing
Tags: , , , , , , ,

From top: Stephen Lewis Kahukaka-Gedye, Joao Felipe Martins De Melo, and Bryce John Jourdain. (Source: ONE News)

From top: Stephen Lewis Kahukaka-Gedye, Joao Felipe Martins De Melo, and Bryce John Jourdain.

 

The outdoor pursuits centre responsible for a rock climbing tragedy in which three people died last year could face fines of up to $750,000.

 

The Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits and Education Centre (Topec) today pleaded guilty at the New Plymouth District Court to three charges related to the deaths.

 

Spotswood College students Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye and Felipe Melo, both 17, and their instructor Bryce Jourdain, 42, were swept out to sea on August 8, 2012 while climbing around Paritutu rock.

 

Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye and Bryce Jourdain have not been found, but have been farewelled with public memorials.

 

New Plymouth Mayor Harry Duynhoven today welcomed the organisation’s guilty pleas.

 

“Obviously it removes the need for court hearings and for the families to have to relive all of that tragedy,” he said.

 

“This is a tragic incident, almost a year ago now.”

 

Topec was charged in February under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, but has remained open.

 

“It has been a very valued part of the education structure of Taranaki,” Duynhoven said, “and many of us myself, my children have been out with Topec.”

 

But Spotswood College is not using it for now and says it will not make a decision on returning until the investigations are complete.

 

The charges were:

 

  • Failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee Bryce Jourdain (who died in the incident).
  • Failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that a volunteer instructor from Germany was not exposed to hazards of high and powerful seas in his place of work.
  • Failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of its employee while at work harmed any other person.

 

Each charge carries a maximum fine of $250,000 and sentencing has been set down for September 6.

 

 

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