Death fall track ‘met safety re­quire­ments’

Kapi-Mana News - - WHAT’S ON - RACHEL THOMAS

A man who died on the new Kapiti walk­ing track may have fallen and hit his head, po­lice say.

Emer­gency ser­vices were called to the Paekakariki Es­carp­ment track, also known as the ‘‘Stair­way to Heaven’’, at 1.10pm on Mon­day, April 25 to at­tend to Lower Hutt man Derek Bunting.

A Welling­ton po­lice cen­tral com­mu­ni­ca­tions spokesman said it ap­peared Bunting, in his 60s, may have fallen and hit his head.

It would be over to the coro­ner to de­ter­mine whether the man had suf­fered a med­i­cal event then fallen and hit his head, or if he had sim­ply fallen.

Po­lice, fire, am­bu­lance and the Palmer­ston North-based res­cue he­li­copter at­tended.

Bunting’s body was car­ried out on a stretcher by emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel, po­lice said.

Ja­son and Fenella Christie, who saw the event un­fold, said Bunting ‘‘just got to the top of the stairs and col­lapsed’’.

Bunting, a school teacher, was three weeks into a new job in the IT depart­ment at Sa­cred Heart Col­lege in Lower Hutt.

Tram­per Ross Giblin said he un­der­stood an off-duty para­medic was nearby when the man col­lapsed.

‘‘She per­formed CPR, so if he was go­ing to sur­vive, he had ev­ery chance,’’ Giblin said.

CPR was per­formed for about 30 min­utes, with­out suc­cess.

The track stretches for 10 kilo­me­tres along­side State High­way 1 be­tween Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay, and was opened to the pub­lic on April 12. It con­tains 492 steps and serves as part of the Te Araroa trail, which stretches from Cape Reinga to Bluff. It rises from sea level to 220 me­tres.

Giblin said the track was ‘‘ab­so­lutely packed’’ on the day of the in­ci­dent. The steep ter­rain was prov­ing dif­fi­cult for emerg- ency ser­vices, he said.

‘‘The he­li­copter peo­ple have been in to have a look, but there’s ac­tu­ally nowhere to land.’’

Te Araroa Trust runs the Te Araroa Trail and about half of it runs across Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion land.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Rob Wake­lin said the track had been as­sessed for safety and met re­quire­ments, but the trust would now re­visit things. He said signs and com­mu­ni­ca­tion on how chal­leng­ing the track was had been in­ten­tion­ally frank.

PHOTO: RAN­DALL WALKER

The Stair­way to Heaven walk­ing track.

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