Morning Report today devoted nearly seven minutes to an accident on the Skyline luge at Rotorua – more than twice as much time as it gave to a fatal helicopter crash near Wanaka. Guyon Espiner interviewed a man who witnessed the grisly spectacle while passing overhead on the chairlift, and who was clearly traumatised by the experience. The witness seemed indignant that there wasn’t a Victim Support team waiting at the top to offer immediate counselling.Goodness me, there was blood visible. Children saw it too and no doubt would have been left permanently scarred. The witness was appalled at the Skyline staff’s apparently casual reaction to the tragedy. I half expected him to call for a commission of inquiry.
Espiner’s co-host Susie Ferguson then leapt in like a tag wrestler and grilled the company CEO, whose assurance that a paramedic and ambulance were promptly on the scene was apparently deemed inadequate. Ferguson wanted to know whether the accident victim might be permanently maimed, and when the perplexed CEO couldn’t answer that, not being a medical man, she imperiously demanded: “Why not?”The company’s callous indifference was considered such an outrage that the item ran several minutes past the usual break for the 8.30am news.
A listener tuning in halfway through could have been excused for wondering what awful catastrophe had unfolded. In fact the accident victim had broken his ankle.So: “Man breaks ankle on luge”. It’s not exactly up there with, say, the Carterton balloon tragedy.
I’ve been on the Skyline luge a number of times, first with my kids and more recently with my grandchildren, and I’d be surprised if minor accidents like this weren’t a regular occurrence. People ride on luges because they provide a thrill. If there wasn’t an element of risk, the business wouldn’t exist. So why the fuss?Morning Report can normally be counted on to provide a refuge from the confected non-news that other media outlets bombard us with. I bet I’m not the only listener hoping this was just a momentary lapse of judgment.