8th Feb 2013 4:35am | By Hugh Radojev
Emergency services in New Zealand have been left fuming after a hiker activated his emergency beacon in the South Island because he was running late and wanted a lift to his car.
The man activated his emergency beacon late afternoon yesterday and subsequently a rescue helicopter was dispatched to his location at a cost to the New Zealand tax payer of $10,000.
The helicopter's crew were irate to find that the hiker, in his 60s wasn't in any physical danger or trouble other then the fact that he was running late and wanted a lift to his car.
Maritime New Zealand's spokesperson Nigel Clifford said that the MNZ was taking it's time to decide whether or not to press charges against the man.
"While the decision to activate a beacon is one that only the person carrying it can make, depending on their circumstances, it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It is certainly not a taxi service,'' Mr Clifford said.
Clifford and his MNZ crews were particularly upset with the fact that while their chopper was ferrying a man to his car it was unable to be potentially available to respond to an actual emergency.
"The helicopter was tied up for two-and-a-half hours," he said. "That aircraft was unavailable for any other genuine emergency that may have arisen.''
Penalties for the misuse of beacons range from a formal warning, infringement notice penalty of $NZ250 and prosecution, which carries a maximum fine of $NZ30,000.