Dr. Alastair Kenneth Senior, 40, from Auckland, New Zealand died instantly from severe injuries when his hovercraft suffered a mechanical failure, causing a blade to shear off and hit him in the head while he was demonstrating the machine on a beach, west of Auckland.
It had earlier been reported Dr. Senior had been decapitated but Sergeant Colin Nuttall of the Waitemata police said that was not accurate. “But a blade coming at that speed hitting someone in the back of the head is going to do some pretty severe damage.
” Fairfax Media said that police planned to interview members of the man’s family about the death. “Some of them were present on the beach,” Sergeant Nuttall told Fairfax.
The New Zealand Herald reported that it was the first time Dr. Senior had driven the hovercraft, which he had assembled from a kit. Sgt. Nuttall told the Herald that New Zealand did not have regulations covering recreational hovercrafts, provided they were not used on roads.
The newspaper went on to quote a former member of the Hovercraft Club of New Zealand, Ashley Shaw, who said the craft were generally safe. “To make them, it’s a piece of cake. I designed my own,” he said. “Hovercraft are inherently very, very safe and simple devices. They are quite stable.” Police said an engineer was examining the remains of the hovercraft and the death had been referred to the coroner.