Helpers couldn’t save stuck dad

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

Two Aus­tralian fish­er­men jumped into a South­land river to help a group of tourists but were un­able to free a man trapped un­der­wa­ter in a mini­van.

Cana­dian tourist Uri Tak Kau Law, 59, was trapped un­der­wa­ter and drowned when his van plunged off a onelane bridge on Noko­mai Rd on Fe­bru­ary 4. His nine pas­sen­gers, in­clud­ing wife Diane Ger­maine-Law, 52, and daugh­ters Camille, 13, and Gisele, 14, sur­vived.

Coroner Christo­pher Devon­port’s find­ings said South­land District Coun­cil re­viewed signs on the ap­proach to the bridge, re­moved veg­e­ta­tion and in­stalled new signs.

On the day of the crash, the group left Ar­row­town, plan­ning to drive to Mil­ford Sound but de­toured to see people fish­ing. They turned down Noko­mai Rd, a gravel road, and stopped to go for a walk. How­ever, while re­turn­ing to the high­way, the van hit the side of a onelane bridge, top­pled over the side and landed in the river on the driver’s side.

Two Aus­tralian fish­er­men saw the crash and rushed to help. The van landed on its side in waist-deep wa­ter and Law, re­strained by a seat­belt, was par­tially thrown from the ve­hi­cle and trapped un­der the driver’s strut.

The rest of the group freed them­selves by push­ing a win­dow out and us­ing a slid­ing side door. Two fish­er­men, Andrew Barns­ley and David Thomp­son, stopped and ran to help four women who were try­ing to lift the van off Law but were un­able to move the van.

Fa­tal: The van which went over the side of the Noko­mai Bridge and into the Mataura river.

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