A husband saw his wife slide from the edge of a waterfall into the Fiordland National Park and a coroner says that her death can be prevented if the Department of Conservation (DOC) acted earlier.
Tuesday Coroner Marcus Elliott, from Christchurch, published his findings in the death of the Israeli tourist Udy Brill in 2016, and the French woman Anne-Marie Scaglione-Genet who died in 2017, both after the fall of the Gertrude Saddle in the Fiordland National Park.
The reports about each death are related, because the coroner has found similarities in the deaths of women. In both cases Elliott criticized DOC.
In March 2016 Brill, 31, died of a head injury he sustained after a chance fall during his descent from the Gertrude saddle.
Elliott concluded that it was likely that Brill missed an important point on the route, where he could safely cross a stream before descending to the Gertrude Valley floor.
There was a worn track on the true left side of the stream. That job ran along the intersection due to repeated examples of hikers who missed the spot where they had to cross, Elliott said.
Brill went a long way further along the true left side of the stream and finally to a waterfall where he found himself on a steep and dangerous terrain that would have been wet and slippery from a nearby waterfall, Elliott said.
"Mr. Brill slipped on the rocks as he tried to descend or tried to climb back after discovering that he was in an unsafe area."
Brill had sufficient experience and was suitably equipped for the trek, Elliott said.
DOC stated in the coroner's report that after the death of Brill a Visitor Incident Investigation was carried out, which showed that additional markers were needed on the route.
By November 2016, pole-mounted route markers had been ordered, but DOC missed the opportunity to install them before Christmas.
In January 2017, the French Anne-Marie Scaglione-Genet, 53, died after falling into the same area while walking on the Gertrude Saddle route.
Scaglione-Genet and her husband Pierre Genet, on their descent from the saddle, also missed the point on the route where it was safe to cross the stream.
"As a result, they were in an area where the rocks were partially wet, and Mrs Scaglione-Genet slipped and fell," Elliott said.
Although Scaglione-Genet and her husband did not exactly follow the same route as Brill, they went down in the same area and were among the safest passage in an area, which is clearly dangerous, Elliott said.
According to Elliott, if DOC had taken the step to install the markers in the 10 months before Scaglione-Genet slipped and fell, her death might be avoidable.
DOC, in the coroner's report, in response to the comments made, acknowledged that it could have acted more quickly as a result of Brill's death, and if so, the death of Scaglione-Genet was possible. appearance.
DOC Te Anau operations manager Greg Lind, speaking after the release of the report on Tuesday, said that DOC accepted the coroner's findings, but there were challenges surrounding installing the markings on the route.
The markers could not be installed immediately after Brill's death because the winter condition prevented DOC personnel from entering the area safely, Lind said.
DOC accepted that it missed the short period before Christmas 2016 when the markings could have been installed. It said that it expressed its condolences to the families of both trams through the court of the coroner.
Lind said that DOC could reassure the public of his professionalism, but they had to deal with an increasingly challenging situation with regard to managing visitors in the park.
This had to do with ignoring advice on the DOC website and ignoring the warning signals and the advice of the staff.