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Unlucky break for fisherman

By Emily Norman

[email protected]

The saying “break a leg” took a very literal turn for the worse during a fishing competition between Pukemanu and Riversdale over the weekend.

Barry Whitney, 72, of Greytown, was flown to hospital after slipping and snapping his leg while dismounting the boat at Riversdale Beach, following a successful day out fishing.

Mr Whitney’s left leg got caught between the trailer and the edge of the boat, and the rest of him “sailed overboard”, leaving him hanging by his leg.

Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club captain Mike Taylor was close by when the incident unfolded and due to the memorandum of understanding between the club and Wellington Free Ambulance, was called to be the first responder to the emergency.

“It was very nasty,” Mr Taylor said.

“The fibula had actually been dislocated out of the heel and had then broken through the skin, so there was this sort of stub end of the fibula sticking out and then the foot was around the side just lying there.”

“When the 111 call again went up, and came through to my phone, I was able to say that I had already responded, which was great — I managed to administer some painkillers to him, which took the edge off a little bit — not very much though in a situation like that.”

Mr Taylor said the MoU with Wellington Free had given him access to their clinical advice team, who talked him through what he “should and shouldn’t be doing” for the injury.

“With the 111 call, it was only listed as a broken ankle, and I was telling them, hey lady, this is worse than a broken ankle, I think we possibly need a helicopter.”

Mr Taylor was told that the Westpac helicopters were unavailable, and so he took a photograph of the man’s injuries and it was sent on to Auckland.

“As soon as they saw the photograph, the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter was on the way.”

The Riversdale Fire Party attended the emergency and handheld torches were used to guide the chopper down to land safely.

Mr Whitney was flown to Wellington Hospital where his leg was operated on that night. He was to have more surgery this morning.

He has been a member of the Pukemanu Boating and Fishing Club for several years, and club secretary Don Finlayson said he had really contributed to the club’s win over Riversdale that day.

Mr Whitney was not sure how much longer he would be in hospital for, but said he would like to thank all those involved the effort to help him with his severe injury.

“The locals out there were just fantastic, they really went over and above,” he said.

“I’ll thank them all more personally when I get out of here.”


Riversdale Surf Lifesaving Club to the rescue again


A 6-year-old girl was flown to hospital by Life Flight last week after an allergic reaction to a bee sting.

The girl had been at Riversdale Beach on Thursday when the allergic reaction occurred and 111 was dialled. Because of the memorandum of understanding between Riversdale Beach Surf Lifesaving Club and Wellington Free Ambulance, club captain Mike Taylor was able to respond to the emergency immediately.

“The young girl’s face swelled up with blotches all over the place, and her breathing starting to restrict,” Mr Taylor said.

“She didn’t have an epi-pen or anything like that, but fortunately, someone else with an allergic child had medication and the child responded to that.”

Mr Taylor said had the child not responded to the medication, “things could have got bad very quickly”.

Her condition could have changed at any time though, and the rescue helicopter was called. The girl’s mother came back to the surf club later with some chocolates to thank them for their help.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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