Coroners Findings Trevor Tolputt Overland Track

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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby Vee » Wed 22 May, 2019 11:39 am

Read the coroner's report and you'll realise no person walked on by; the two walking parties both helped this man.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby potato » Wed 22 May, 2019 11:52 am

Yes I have read it.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby Vee » Wed 22 May, 2019 11:58 am

I think we should be commending our fellow bushwalkers for helping.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby Moondog55 » Wed 22 May, 2019 12:59 pm

Also in these days of ultra light and paring things right down to the bone who would have been carrying that one "extra" thing that could have been used?
It seems as if conditions were bad enough for people to have needed every layer they had for their own survival and very few of use these days carry the big plastic bags that were almost mandatory a decade ago and which are no longer stocked at my local Safeway store.
It's sad but sad stuff happens every day
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby norts » Wed 22 May, 2019 1:45 pm

There is also the first aid principle. You can only give aid if the patient gives consent( an unconscious patient is different of course.)

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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 22 May, 2019 1:51 pm

Unless psychologically deranged, very few people would resist sincere and firm offers of assistance when in hardship. If the individual rejected due to hypothermia induced mental impairment, then consent goes to a different category of treatment.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby myrtlegirl » Wed 22 May, 2019 3:13 pm

dee_legg wrote:
north-north-west wrote:Ordinary members of the public have no duty of care to complete strangers who put themselves in danger.

All this "they didn't try hard enough" bull. They were there, you weren't. They could assess the dangers of attempting assistance/rescue in the prevailing condition, you can't. It is not possible to save everyone who goes bush without adequate preparation and equipment. We all have to accept that. Judging the people on the ground who did the best they could at the time and in the circumstances achieves nothing.


Dear NNW,

Thanks for being a voice of reason among all this should of/ would of/ what if nonsense.


^^^ What they said.

The coroner noted In succumbing to hypothermia and death on the Overland Track, Mr Tolputt, tragically, brought about his own demise by a series of poor decisions - to walk alone with inadequate clothing and equipment, to fail to plan for delays, to try and press on in extreme conditions instead of remaining at Windy Ridge to recover, and finally, to reject the assistance offered by other walkers that would likely have seen him safe.

The coroner heard all the evidence. Trust her judgement.

Trust too that bushwalkers do want to look out for others; I've never found it to be otherwise. It's a great community, cherish and nourish it.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby potato » Wed 22 May, 2019 3:41 pm

The legal system is far from perfect and I wonder if the coroner has even been to the site. Extreme weather conditions also means different things to different people. As discussed before, the individual rejected assistance in a hypothermic state.

Key to my concerns is that this all happened approximately 1200m from the hut. Many of us here know that part of the walk very well and it puzzles me that no one went back from the hut to assist. As I've suggested before, perhaps its the case that people don't know what hypothermia looks like.

I'm not blaming anyone for this as I see this as a very unfortunate incident.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby dee_legg » Wed 22 May, 2019 4:18 pm

potato wrote:The legal system is far from perfect and I wonder if the coroner has even been to the site. Extreme weather conditions also means different things to different people. As discussed before, the individual rejected assistance in a hypothermic state.

Key to my concerns is that this all happened approximately 1200m from the hut. Many of us here know that part of the walk very well and it puzzles me that no one went back from the hut to assist. As I've suggested before, perhaps its the case that people don't know what hypothermia looks like.

I'm not blaming anyone for this as I see this as a very unfortunate incident.


When you say 'no one', I'm wondering who you think should have gone to look for him?
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby wildwanderer » Wed 22 May, 2019 4:30 pm

Personally if anyone should be criticized in this tragedy it's the visitors centre (mostly) and the parks service.

The lack of a robust emergency protocol for a missing/overdue walker was appalling.

The first radio call to report Mr Tolputt overdue and extreme concern for his welfare was answered with a no sorry parks cant assist until 48 hours has passed responce. (Was the ferry man who said this..the only person who had a radio connection with the huts)

Neither the visitors centre nor parks had any contingency plan when tge weather knocked out powelines disabling land/mobile communication with SAR authorities.

Nor had they any protocol to immediately contact SAR when a walker is missing.

In the report it seems to indicate the time line was

6.30 pm : first radio call by Mr cubbin to visitors centre for assistance as Mr Tolputt has not arrived at hut as expected.

Visitors centre staff talk internally about what to do and to maybe organise a search on there own. No thought of contact parks personnel who are next door.

8am next day. Mr cubbin again radios the visitor centre to say Mr Tolputt hasn't made it to the hut.

8.40am. visitors centre notify local parks personnel of missing walker. And on site parks and visitor centre personal commense a search

10.15am. body found. Only then do the onsite parks and visitor personel notify SAR.


The visitors centre didn't even inform the parks ranger in the next buildimg that someone was missing and potentially in serious trouble until the next day. (Walker was already dead by that time)

Even then the head parks ranger didn't know there was a satellite phone in one of the storage areas.

Given the weather, the coroner established helicopters couldn't fly nor could a land party have reached him in time had SAR been contacted immediately.

However that still doesn't let parks or the visitors centre off the hook for a massive failure in implementating a emergency protocol. Visitors centre and parks personnel were not even speaking to each other due to some previous disagreements and that was likely the reason they didn't communicate with each other until the following morning.

I think the poor man and his son did everything they could under the circumstances. They are not trained first responders. They did the correct thing and contacted the track authorities via radio as soon as they became aware the walker was ovedue

It was up to parks and the visitor centre to take over and contact SAR as soon as the first radio call was made and they failed miserably.
Last edited by wildwanderer on Wed 22 May, 2019 5:15 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby myrtlegirl » Wed 22 May, 2019 4:38 pm

Evidence in the report says:

(Mr xx) is a walker with around 30 years’ experience and has walked the full length of the Overland Track on three occasions. He said in his affidavit that his group were
well-prepared to walk at this time of the year being fully aware of the extreme weather conditions that might occur.
.... "I intended to go back to locate the male however my gear was wet and it wasn’t safe for me to go alone."


and
Mr xxx stated that he did not sleep due to concern about Mr Tolputt and said that at one stage he attempted to walk 100 metres along the track in an effort to locate him but turned back due to conditions being too challenging.

It doesn't appear anyone else was in the hut that night.

I can't imagine how awful that poor man felt, then and now, trying to go back to help, but couldn't. How he, his partner and 11 yr old child felt the next morning when they found the dead man; it would have been horrific.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby Warin » Wed 22 May, 2019 5:31 pm

north-north-west wrote: assistance was offered and refused, but he would already have been hypothermic at that point and not thinking clearly.


Umm .. that is not my reading of the report.

Mr x stated in his affidavit sworn on 15 July 2016 that Mr Tolputt was walking alone and looking tired. When Mr x asked if he was okay , Mr Tolputt replied that he was okay but it was hard going. Mr Tolputt asked about the distance to the next hut to which Mr x replied that they were 10 to 20 minutes north of the bridge and another 10 to 20 minutes to the hut after the bridge. Mr x described Mr Tolputt as seeming lucid and was offering information freely without having trouble with his speech. He was not shivering. Mr x stated in his affidavit that he did not feel Mr Tolputt was in immediate danger and simply appeared tired due to the tough conditions

Lucid. No speech trouble. ?

Where is the 'not thinking clearly'? Hypothermia at this point?

------------------
I am disappointed that satellite phones were not part of the recommendations given by the coroner. Landline communications were difficult at the time, the permanent provision of satellite phone by use of staff should be given some consideration.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby north-north-west » Wed 22 May, 2019 6:46 pm

It can be difficult to assess hypothermia, particularly in someone you don't know. I've been hypothermic to the point of having trouble standing up or walking in a straight line. No shivering (which will cease at a certain stage), no slurred speech. No-one with me on any of those occasions realised how bad I was. And some of those people knew me well.

The tunnel vision effect, of focusing on a single objective and ignoring everything that might interfere, is a classic hypothermic thought process.
Given what the coroner has said about the likely time of death, and the fact that he was last seen fairly close to point where his body was found, says he was already in a bad way even if it was not apparent to the witness.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby secretary233 » Wed 22 May, 2019 6:53 pm

Many, many years ago, when I was pimply little Air Force cadet, my Flight Sergeant had a little saying; the 7 P's -----Proper Preparation and Planning Prevents *&^%$#! Poor Performance.
My take on this tragedy was the lack of planning and preparation by the hiker in question which led to his death. You should always prepare for the worst, especially on the Overland track.
If he had taken a simple bothy bag and a cheap Kmart sleeping mat so he could get out of the wind and rain and get some insulation from the ground, he may have survived.

Unfortunately, many people whose experience of wind and rain consists of a quick run from the car inside, don't realise just how quick hypothermia can set in. Even the best equipped bushwalker can get into deep trouble in the bush. You need to have a plan B just in case it goes pear shaped.

I think that most people who frequent these forums are aware of the dangers and plan for emergencies. Tragically, this fellow has learned his lesson too late.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby Warin » Thu 23 May, 2019 7:45 am

north-north-west wrote:It can be difficult to assess hypothermia, particularly in someone you don't know.


Best to get it at the shivering stage, easy to assess and not far gone. But you have to be there to see it first.

This guy may have already been through it.

Getting a hand shake to assess temperature/circulation ... well most will have gloves on.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby slparker » Thu 23 May, 2019 8:17 am

The people who had passed the deceased and later learnt of his death are probably replaying the 'what ifs' every morning at 3 am. No need for us to speculate what 'should have been done.'

This is not the same thing as himalayan climbers purposefully climbing past dying climbers and not bothering to assist even knowing full well their condition.

If everyone in the hut had known the true condition of the deceased and likely outcome of this unfortunate event I have little doubt that they would have assisted.

I,for one, have spent a night in a tent with gnawing doubts only to find in the morning that an overdue solo walker, intending to meet me at a campsite, has bivvied up somewhere and they stumble in in the morning cheerfully announcing 'some weather last night'.

The decision to leave a safe hut or tent in appalling weather to find someone that you are not even certain is in trouble is not easy and has its own risks.

This is a terrible outcome for all but the responsibility lies ultimately with the deceased who appears to have been underprepared. Sometimes you get away with that and sometimes you don't.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 23 May, 2019 8:37 am

I think we are being a little harsh on Mr Tolputt.

Given the way gear is marketed these days its quite possible he felt he was well equipped for the conditions. It takes alot of experience to filter through all the marketing to learn what is effective and what is not.

To clear up a few misconceptions.

-He was carrying a tent and sleeping gear.

- He had gloves. (Though there is some confusion here as the first part of coroners report says he had gloves but the second part says he lacked 'warm gloves'.

- He didnt have a beanie. (not great but perhaps he had a full head of hair and the akubra is a water resistant woolen felt and thus would have had some insulating properties).
Also the expert witness Dr Lunkin claimed 'a large amount of heat is lost from the head' which is incorrect. The head loses the same amount of heat as other parts of the body at most 7-10%. the loss is relative to the surface area exposed.

- He didnt have a seam sealed membrane jacket. From the coroners report its seems he had a soft shell. I was at one of the chain outdoor stores recently and the sales assistant was trying to convince me how waterproof a soft shell was. 10,000 hydrostatic head he claimed... So its quite possible Mr Tolputt thought his jacket was fine and was not aware that in prolonged rain water would leak through the seams. There is no reference in the coroners report that Mr Tolputt clothing was wet during his walk. So its possible his jacket was performing fine in the snow.

- I do agree a PLB should have been carried as a solo walker. However if had been severely hypothermic its possible he would have been to confused to activate it.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby wayno » Thu 23 May, 2019 8:41 am

i've seen people using softshell and down jackets and wind breakers as raincoats not realising they arent waterproof...
anything with a nylon shell is waterproof to some people because it looks the same material as a rainshell.
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby Moondog55 » Thu 23 May, 2019 9:20 am

Heat loss is also linked to blood flow, while circulation to the extremities slows down or stops when cold, the blood flow to the head doesn't so much. I'm with the expert doctor on that one.
Perhaps it was a combination of lots of little things as they often are, one factor may have simply been living in a warm area he wasn't acclimatised or mentally ready for snow or aware of the difference between bits of gear as wayno has commented on above.
There are gloves and there are warm gloves and the difference can be substantial.
We winter walkers have developed techniques to cope
The check list for the track I found on the web is a good one but it doesn't list any extras for winter, such as shell mittens or balaclava or the need for extra warm layers. Perhaps Mr Tolputt had everything on the list and did think he was adequately prepared; not being aware that the list was a summer/minimum check list.
I saw nothing about his diet in the findings, perhaps he simply didn't eat enough for the conditions and was hungry, that could be very much a contributing factor. Conjectures on my part as I wasn't there
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Re: Overland track death in 2016 due to hypothermia.

Postby wayno » Thu 23 May, 2019 9:36 am

an indian tourist died on the tongariro crossing last year.... the weather was severe and only their one small group went on the track that day, they were woefully under equipped, he seperated from them, the others thought he'd turned back, the others diverted to get down lower faster, and get to a hut.... the chap who died kept going on the high track...
he cant have had any concept of what he was doing, the track goes to 1800m above sea level with zero shelter... he cant have looked at the forecast...
people see these trips on the internet from overseas, decide they are going to do it, without doing their homework at all. and without a clue of what the conditions can be like,
ive had rainwater on my clothes flash freeze nearby on ruapehu. a front will go through and the temperature can drop 15 degrees in minutes.
there was an incident where about 15 foreign tourists had hypothermia on the top of the tongariro crossing in one day and had to be rescued... shuttle companies have signed an agreement that they are not supposed to carry ill equipped people, but they let anyone go as long as they have any sort of jacket, inc wool or a wind breaker and nothing else... no shortage of people wearing jeans...

a few years back a storm killed several people on the annapurna trail... completely unprepared for severe weather, they were relying on nice weather to complete the trail... you've got backpacking tourists who arent that experienced going into places they dont have the prepation and experience to cope when the weather is worse than expected
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Re: Coroners Findings Trevor Tolputt Overland Track

Postby bigwallclimber » Tue 16 Jul, 2019 3:59 pm

My two cents worth is that we were not there, we are reading a report and cannot judge or understand what the real weather conditions were like nor the psychological conditions of both parties were. We can say this is what I would have done but every situation, environment and people are different and thus we make different decisions but lets not have a go at the people that tried (Maybe I read the posts wrong).

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