Tragedy sparks ban call

A CORONER has recommended water skiing, knee boarding and ski-biscuiting on the Prosser River west of the bridge at Orford be banned.

The call from Coroner Robert Webster comes after a seven-year-old Lauderdale boy was killed in February 2020 while riding a ski biscuit. The boy was being towed by a boat and was thrown from the biscuit and landed on rocks by the shore.

Mr Webster said the area was “inherently dangerous place’’ to undertake water skiing and similar activities. “I acknowledge it has been common practice, over the years, for these watersports to be conducted on this part of the river,’’ Mr Webster said.

“However, its narrow width, the rocky composition of the river banks, and the shared nature of the waterway all lead to the likelihood of an increased risk of injury and/ or death.

“This conclusion is not only demonstrated by this case but in the previous coronial investigation which I have referred to and which involved far more experienced participants than in this case.

“This danger is increased in circumstances where the rider has little or no control of their own direction and speed where ski biscuits or boards are fixed to the vessel as distinct from a situation where the tow rope, for example, is held by the water skier.

“I therefore recommend that a maximum speed of five knots be imposed on the Prosser River west of the Prosser River Bridge and that skiing, ski boarding and/or ski-biscuiting and such similar sports at this location be prohibited.

“The speed at which people are towed should be commensurate with the age and experience of the person being towed. “An observer must be present and must watch the skier or person being towed on a board or sea biscuit at all times and that person must transfer messages from the skier to the driver of the vessel. “This allows the driver to concentrate on operating the boat.’’

For the ban to come into place the State Government will need to changed the relevant by-laws.

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