Tweed wakeboarder wins case against boat driver

A TEENAGER who suffered a severe spinal injury during a thrill ride down the Tweed River has successfully sued a young boat driver for damages.

Martin Hume was left partially paralysed when he fell head-first off a wakeboard into shallow water at Chinderah Bay in 2007.

The NSW Supreme Court heard the teenager had just finished work at Coles when he headed to the Chinderah boat ramp with a group of friends to try out the extreme water sport "wake skating".

While he was an experienced wakeboarder, it was Mr Hume's first attempt at the more dangerous, barefoot variation which, the court heard, does not include the boots that normally keep a rider bound to a board.

The friends then set out upstream towards Murwil- lumbah with Timothy Patterson at the wheel of the tow-boat.

After falling off the wakeboard a "couple of times" the boat was turned north.

Mr Hume told the court that on the last time he got up on the board, he didn't have time to position his feet before he fell into the water head first.

Friends came to his aid and he was taken to hospital but the injuries left Mr Hume a tetraplegic.

He claimed his injuries were caused by the driver veering outside the channel markers into shallow water where a rider could fall and hit a sand bar.

A doctor's report tendered found "cervical spine injuries were caused by flexion and compression loading ... most likely when his head contacted the bottom of the channel".

A study of the river found that "nowhere in the channel in the vicinity of the marker is less than 3m depth".

Justice Stephen Campbell found that while there was considerable risk associated with the sport, he was satisfied that "but for the failure of the defendant to take the precaution of remaining in the channel, the plaintiff's injury would not have occurred".

Damages will be assessed in Sydney on Friday, September 27.



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