Helpers couldn’t save stuck dad
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.