A 20 year-old is dead after jumping some 45m off the antique Hikitia, a Wellington waterfront crane, after a night with friends in the city. His death has sparked calls for tighter security.
Five days ago, a video featuring a man jumping from Hikitia became a hit online and sparked warnings from police. And just a few weeks ago, the crane was vandalised and a trustee claims they asked for beefed-up security that never eventuated. Maritime Heritage Trust of Wellington owns the crane. It discussed various possible security measures after the video went viral and after the earlier, unrelated vandalism. But it seemed little if anything was done or deemed feasible to keep people off Hikitia before it was climbed this morning. “We considered possible ways we could contain any copycat [behaviour],” trustee Malcolm McGregor said. “Fences would be pushed over. We’ve been talking about possibilities since that thing went viral last week and we thought of all kind of mad, crazy ideas. Whatever we think of, it comes down to if somebody’s determined they will get on board and do it.”
He said security cameras and warning signs were discussed but it was “very difficult” for these to stop a person hell-bent on accessing the crane. Police said the man who died had been out drinking with friends and Mr McGregor also understood alcohol was possibly a factor in the man’s decision to climb the crane. Even if the man who jumped this morning had been imitating the viral video, he may not have been aware the crane was at least 9m higher today than it was when the video was shot. Mr McGregor said the man and his mates were possibly emboldened after earlier jumping successfully off a much smaller nearby bridge. “…That worked, so then they were on the Hikitia.” He said two or three weeks ago, also on a Sunday morning, Hikitia was vandalised for the first time in a decade. The trustee claimed he asked for enhanced security after that — but wouldn’t reveal who he asked, saying a “witch hunt” was unnecessary.
Mr McGregor said the council had already invested heavily in security and electronic surveillance in recent years, and the area was overwhelmingly safe. But people could still access the crane. “It’s like providing a total security service for John Key or somebody. You need to go to extremes to offset the kind of determination that one individual can have,” he said. Rearranging moorings to make the crane less accessible was a possible solution, Mr McGregor said. This was already being investigated from a tsunami-proofing perspective but was technically difficult, he said. Mr McGregor said crane-jumping was a fad, like train-surfing, and he hoped it would become unfashionable soon. “You can’t safely do it, jump off and expect to survive.”(THE GUY IN OUR VIDEO HERE DID!) Councillor Nicola Young of Lambton Ward was among those on social media saying the Trust needed to improve security around Hikitia. “Access certainly needs tightening,” she tweeted. Police Inspector Dave Rose warned people against climbing or jumping off Hikitia after seeing the viral video earlier this week. “Had the person landed the wrong way in the water – it doesn’t bear thinking about,” Mr Rose said. A Reddit website user who claimed to have been on the crane “years ago” said they were arrested for climbing the crane but never thought jumping off the top of Hikitia was prudent because it was “bloody high.” The Crane Association extended its condolences to the family of the man who died but said cranes were not to be climbed on. “With the opening up of Wellington waterfront jump-off spots, the Hikitia has become a target for young people out to prove themselves and today’s accident is an example. “The group said it condemned the use of Hikitia as a jumping platform. “In general climbing on cranes should not be attempted at any time by those not qualified to do so,” the association added.
DIRECTIONS TO THIS CRANE:
Head south on Taranaki St toward Cable St. Turn right onto Jervois Quay (signs for Route 1/Route 2).
Make a U-turn at Brandon St. Turn left and welcome to Lambton Harbour.