22-year-old Joseph “Joey” Scaturchio was tragically killed during the Australian Watercross Nationals on 22 April when his jet-ski was involved in a high speed crash.  Joey was competing in the Pro Stock Runabout category of the title and was participating in the final round of competition at the time of the accident. The incident occurred at the Marine Stadium on Main Beach, located on the Southern Spit on Queensland’s Gold Coast, just a few kilometers north of Kurrawa Beach where, last month, junior surf lifesaver Matthew Barclay also lost his life during a National Title. According to an article in The Age, it is believed that four jet-ski riders were involved in the fatal crash. The article reports that the competitors collided after riding a sharp turn at speeds exceeding 100km/h.  Paramedics failed to resuscitate Scaturchio and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Courier Mail reported that according to Secretary of the Australian Jet Sport Boating Association, Mandy Brown, a full inquiry into the incident will be conducted by the sport in addition to Forensic Crash Unit and Water Police investigations already underway.

The Scaturchio family has been extensively involved in the sport of jet-ski riding. Joey’s father, Tony Scaturchio is the president of the Victorian Jet Sports Boating Association of which Joey had also been a member.  Mr Scaturchio and Joey’s younger brother had both also competed in the Nationals over the weekend prior to Joey’s death.

Mr Scaturchio is quoted in the Age as saying, "we do enter these events with the knowledge that motor sports are dangerous but ... hoping that nothing does happen.” From a risk management point of view, there is a recognised level of inherent risk in on-water motor sports which participants generally choose to accept. The occurrence of a fatal accident can serve as a reality check, forcing participants like the Scaturchio’s to reconsider the extent of their tolerability of this risk. The frequency of incidents (if they become more common) can also increase the inherent risk.

Joey Scaturchio’s is one of a number of recent jet-ski accidents that have occurred across Australia resulting in a fatality or serious injury. Some of these incidents include:

  • Earlier last month a 16 year old girl was rushed to Gold Coast Hospital with fractured ribs and lacerations to her head as a result of a jet-ski accident at Southport Broadwater
  • In February this year a swimmer was hit by two men riding a jet ski at Port Melbourne Beach. He was placed on life support but died in hospital
  • In Longford, Tasmania, last December, a woman’s right leg was torn apart by tow ropes after she fell off a jet ski
  • A collision between two jet-ski riders in Brighton Le Sands last November left one man requiring an emergency tracheotomy to secure his airways after suffering severe head injuries
  • In 2010 a man was killed on the Molongo River in Canberra when his jet-ski was hit by ski boat