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Trampers escape punishment

Former St Matthew’s Collegiate student Jessica O’Connor expressed her thanks to those involved in the search efforts on Friday. PHOTO/FILE

The two trampers rescued from the Kahurangi National Park have another worry crossed off their list after police confirmed they would not face charges for breaching the Level 3 lockdown.

Dion Reynolds, of Nelson, and Jessica O’Connor, a former St. Matthew’s Collegiate student spent more than two weeks trapped in the bush after they became lost near Anatori.

With the pair now safely back home questions about why they set off on a multi-day hike in breach of Alert Level 3 lockdown restrictions have begun to circulate.

Stuff reported that Nelson Bays Area Commander Inspector Paul Borrell said police would not be pursuing the matter any further.

“The life-long lessons they have learnt will be more than enough – these two will be thinking about [their ordeal] for many years,” he said.

He said the four-step breach process, starting with education through to formal warnings before charges could be laid, had to be applied equally and in this situation, there had only been one breach.

O’Connor expressed her thanks to all those involved in the rescue efforts in a post on the Givealittle page started by her brother which has raised more than $32,000 for LandSAR.

“The community’s love has been overwhelmingly beautiful and it just shows what we can do when we come together in a positive way.”

She said it was the sort of experience you never expected to go through yourself and she was “eternally grateful” for the emergency response which led to them being found.

“At the end of the day we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the efforts of the Police, LandSAR, Fire Service, Defence Force, all the volunteers, friends and family, donors and the power of positive energy

“While I would never wish this experience upon anyone, there has been a lot learnt and I’m hoping to use this experience to educate others that explore this beautiful country.”

Authorities have also urged trampers to take a personal locator beacon with them, citing the pair’s ordeal as an example.

Mountain Safety Council New Zealand’s Nathan Watson agreed some sort of usable communication advice, such as a beacon, was essential when heading into the bush.

“Take one with you, because there might be that one time that something happens that you would never think of and you need help.

“In this situation, given where the pair went, it’s absolutely a tough environment where you should be carrying a personal locator beacon or another suitable form of communication.” – Additional reporting NZME

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