Death fall track ‘met safety requirements’
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.
The Stairway to Heaven walking track.