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‘He Wouldn’t Be Able To Stop It’ – Paddleboarder Rescued From Lake Taupō

Police are urging water goers to make sure they are properly prepared, after rescuing a paddleboarder who was blown 5 kilometres out on Lake Taupō.

“It’s a classic example of the unexpected happening,” Senior Constable Barry Shepherd QSM says of yesterday’s rescue.

The man was last seen paddling off Waitetoko Beach on his paddleboard, heading towards Motutaiko Island about 11am.

By 3.50pm, the man’s sister raised the alarm and Police, the harbourmaster, and Coastguard volunteers from Taupō and Tūrangi scrambled into action.

With no lifejacket, no personal locator beacon, and no phone a plane was sent up to try to locate the man.

“We found him about 6pm, 5 kilometres from his departure point, in the water holding on to the back of his board.” The plane directed the harbourmaster and Coastguard to the man and he was taken back to shore.

Senior Constable Shepherd says the man in his sixties easily could have died in the lake.

“Because of the wind, he would’ve been blown right the way across the lake to the shoreline about 12km away… he wouldn’t have been able to stop it.”

Anyone going on the water, no matter their skill level, needed to take basic precautions to keep themselves safe, he says.

“At the least, the bare minimum you need to do is wear a lifejacket on the water. Take some form of waterproof container to put your phone in – and put that in your lifejacket so you can use it if the worst happens. Even better, take a personal locator beacon and keep that in your lifejacket.

Having just celebrated his 48th year in Police, Senior Constable Shepherd has a key piece of advice for anyone going onto the water.

“Everybody thinks ‘it won’t happen to me’, when they should be thinking ‘what if it does?’.”

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