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Ski biscuit death prompts Tas river ban

A coroner has recommended banning water skiing activities on a Tasmanian river where a young boy was killed after being flung from a ski biscuit.

The seven-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was riding with his younger brother along the Prosser River, northeast of Hobart, on February 23, 2020.

The younger boy fell into the water, while the seven-year-old crashed onto a rocky river bank.

He suffered head injuries and was taken to the Royal Hobart Hospital, but died the next day.

Tasmanian coroner Robert Webster this week released his findings into the death, including that while the boys were wearing life jackets, the driver of the boat did not provide them with safety instructions.

“They were given little or no instruction … other than to raise their hand if they wanted the boat to slow down or stop,” the coroner said in his report.

“This, given their respective ages, would have been very difficult if not impossible while they were holding onto a ski biscuit with both hands.”

Mr Webster said the boat was reaching speeds of up to 30km/h and travelling too close to the riverbank prior to the accident.

The man driving the boat also had his 11-year-old daughter act as the ‘spotter’, with the coroner describing her input as “negligible”.

Just before the accident, the boat made a sudden turn which threw the captain back and ejected the boys from the ski biscuit.

The coroner said it was unclear what caused the vehicle to turn.

Mr Webster said the dimensions of the river made it an “inherently dangerous place” to participate in water skiing, knee boarding and ski biscuiting.

He recommended banning such activities on the Prosser River west of the Prosser River Bridge, and implementing a maximum speed limit of five knots for boats.

Mr Webster also recommended the minimum age of an observer be raised from 10 years to 16 years.

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