Tourist death prompts recommendation for changes

A coroner has recommended stricter practices be put in place to prevent unprepared bushwalkers from embarking on the Overland Track, following the death of a Chinese tourist.

Kang Jin, from Gansu in China, was 21 when he died of hypothermia while walking the Overland Track at Cradle Mountain with two friends on February 20, 2014.

Coroner Olivia McTaggart released her findings into his death on Friday.

She said the three tourists were “obviously ill-equipped for the walk”.

“Their food supplies and clothing were inadequate … His clothing was wet through to the skin at the time the rescue party reached him.”

Ms McTaggart made three recommendations following the investigation.

“I recommend that the Parks and Wildlife Service give consideration to the availability and use of legislative powers, and consequent development of procedures, to prevent persons embarking on the Overland Track walk when they are observed to be inadequately prepared for the conditions such as to place the safety of themselves and others at risk,” she said.

“I recommend that PWS introduces language buttons on the Overland Track web page that enable translation of the information, including the walker safety checklist, into the main languages used by those undertaking the walk.

“I recommend that PWS introduces clear signage in the visitor centre in the main languages used by walkers, alerting them to the potentially difficult and changeable conditions that they may encounter and the need for thorough preparation for the walk.”

Ms McTaggart noted in her findings that weather conditions were “very poor” on the day Kang Jin died, with heavy rain and winds in excess of 100km/h.

“It was cold, rainy and windy. The wind was increasing in strength, and was expected to further increase as the day went on.”

Parks and Wildlife conducted an internal review as a result of the incident and adjusted procedures to ensure walkers understood the risks involved with taking on the iconic trek.

“The sad death of Kang Jin serves as a reminder to persons contemplating the Overland Track walk of the need to understand the demands of the walk, to be physically and psychologically prepared and to have appropriate clothing and equipment,” Ms McTaggart said.