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Fullers to pay 90k to ferry crash victims

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017

Auckland company Fullers have been fined $140,000 after 19 passengers were injured when its ferry collided with Devonport's Victoria Wharf in 2015.

The ferry operator was sentenced on Monday at Auckland District Court on one count of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of any employee harmed another person for the accident on February 17, 2015.

Fullers pleaded guilty to the charge in February last year but Maritime New Zealand made inquiries for the victims.

The Kea, with 61 people on board, collided with the wharf on a routine 10.30am voyage from downtown Auckland.

The experienced vessel master, Lane van der Linden, had trouble with the Kea's automatic control system and had no control over the starboard thruster as he approached the wharf.

He attempted to regain control manually and turn the Kea back into open water, but the ferry was unable to turn in time and hit the wharf.

There was no warning for passengers to brace and "because bench seating on the main deck of the vessel was not secured, the impact with the wharf caused the seating to topple forward, landing on some passengers," the court ruling said.

Nineteen people were hurt and taken to hospital with injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to a serious concussion.

Fullers is to pay $92,500 to the victims, the highest being $10,000 to one person, and was handed a $40,000 fine.

Maritime NZ regional compliance manager northern, Neil Rowarth, says while Fullers had identified problems with the Kea's digital control system, it had failed to adequately manage the risk to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.

"This sentence should send a strong message to the industry that risks must be properly managed," Mr Rowarth said.

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