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Easy Rider findings little consolation for family

Published: 5:52AM Wednesday June 06, 2012 Source: ONE News

Families who lost loved ones in the sinking of the fishing boat Easy Rider say today's Coroner's inquest into their deaths has not eased their pain.

Eight people died when the boat was hit by a freak wave and sank off Stewart Island in March.

Shane Topi was not talking to his father when he left on the Easy Rider's ill-fated voyage.

"We're just both stubborn bastards," said Shane's father Colwyn. But we were both hoping that either of us would give in first but never happened."

Today it was confirmed the 29-year-old and seven others drowned in the freezing waters of Foveaux Strait

"All I can say to anybody out there is if you're having arguments with your family, talk to them, even if you don't like it just talk to them," said Colwyn.

Shane's body and three others were found up to 16 kilometres from the wreck. None were wearing lifejackets.

Four others, including that of a seven-year-old boy, were never found.

Sole survivor Dallas Reedy clung to debris for 18 hours before the coastguard spotted him.

The inquest heard today that he had just 20 minutes to live when he was plucked from the freezing waters.

Reedy was not among the 20 or so family members in court. Some wept quietly as they heard evidence about their loved ones.

The Coroner invited them to ask questions, but they remained silent

The inquest also heard the boat's liferaft became wedged against a piece of metal and failed to deploy.

The emergency locator beacon activated but went down inside the boat

The Coroner said the question now is whether more lives could have been saved if the authorities and the local community had been aware of the sinking earlier.

Families hope that question will be answered in two separate investigations due out later this year.