Family of man killed after trailer detaches from van says ‘no-one to blame’

Julian Yates was on his way to see his mother when a trailer loaded with glass panels detached from a van and smashed into his vehicle.

The popular 52-year-old cruise boat captain and father-of-two from Akaroa, on Canterbury’s Banks Peninsula, died instantly.

Emergency services were called to the three-vehicle crash on State Highway 7 (Weka Pass Rd) in Hurunui, North Canterbury, at 12.10pm on Friday.

Stuff understands Tim Miller was driving the van along State Highway 7 when the trailer detached from the tow-bar and crashed intoYates’ van.

Skipper Julian Yates spent 10 years guiding nature cruises for Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa Harbour.

CASSANDRA KOVACS/Avenues

Skipper Julian Yates spent 10 years guiding nature cruises for Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa Harbour.

READ MORE:
* Fewer sightings of Hector’s dolphins in Canterbury raises concerns
* Tug of war over Akaroa cruise ships threatens jobs
* Akaroa cruise boat spots first Hector’s dolphin calf of the season
* Working on Canterbury’s twin harbours

Yates’ son, Rhodry Yates, 26, told Stuff he was at dinner with a close family friend when he turned his phone on to see his boss had been trying to get in touch with him. His sister, Saskia Yates, 28, had also left a message saying “please call me”.

“My stomach just dropped, something in me knew something was terribly wrong.

“She said dad was on his way to Oma’s in Hawarden, someone’s trailer came off, there was a collision, and he didn’t make it.”

From the moment he heard about the crash, he decided there was no-one to blame, he said.

“It’s no-one’s fault, of course, there may have been human negligence involved, whatever led to that circumstance, maybe a bolt wasn’t attached or something wasn’t screwed on or something wasn’t right for that to come off.

Rhodry Yates and his father, Julian Yates.

SUPPLIED

Rhodry Yates and his father, Julian Yates.

“I’m sure whoever may be in the firing line will have a heavy heart and going through an absolute crisis of self-blame and I don’t want to add to that. I would be happy to talk to that person, there will be feelings of anger and sadness, but no blame.”

It’s understood the van and trailer are owned by the company Miller works for.

Miller issued a statement through his lawyer on Sunday: “I am incredibly upset by this unintended and unforeseen accident and my thoughts are with the deceased’s family.”

He said he was unable to comment further at this stage.

Julian Yates shared his knowledge of Akaroa Harbour with more than 100,000 passengers.

CASSANDRA KOVACS/Avenues

Julian Yates shared his knowledge of Akaroa Harbour with more than 100,000 passengers.

Yates, a father-of-two, would go out of his way to support anyone he could, his son said.

“He was generous beyond limits of what you could expect from someone else, with his time and his love.

“He was a man of radiance and compassion and he was a big joker. He influenced a lot of people in so many positive ways. To me, he was more than just my dad, he was my best friend and number one companion in life.”

Yates was a musician and played the saxophone alongside his son at an open mic earlier this year. He was also passionate about conservation, particularly Hector’s dolphins.

“He brought such an amazing and unique quality wherever he went. He was the first to get up on the dance floor and dance, no matter how silly he looked. Nothing would stop him from just being himself.”

He was a “man of the sea”, and was the lead skipper on the nature cruises run by Banks Peninsula tourism company Black Cat Cruises.

“He brought so much joy to every single cruise,” Rhodry Yates said.

Saskia Yates said words could not do justice to her father.

Rhodry Yates, left, with his father, Julian Yates, who was killed in a crash near Weka Pass on Friday.

SUPPLIED

Rhodry Yates, left, with his father, Julian Yates, who was killed in a crash near Weka Pass on Friday.

“There’s nothing I could say that would feel adequate in explaining what a person he was and what an amazing man he was.

“It just serves as a reminder that you assume people will be around much longer and sometimes they’re not and I think it’s important for everyone to appreciate who they have in life, whether it be friends or family.”

Black Cat chief executive Paul Milligan told Stuff Yates would be “dearly missed”.

“He just had a genuine enjoyment for what he was doing, and that came across every day.

“Ten years of doing multiple trips a day, and every time he went out he gave it 100 per cent.

“It’s a small community in Akaroa and a small team at Black Cat over there, so there’s a lot of people feeling a great deal of sadness at the moment. It will take some time to fully comprehend.”

His passion for the harbour and its marine life was second to none, Milligan said.

Julian Yates was killed in the three-vehicle crash in the Weka Pass on Friday.

STACY SQUIRES/Stuff

Julian Yates was killed in the three-vehicle crash in the Weka Pass on Friday.

“His genuinely positive outlook and colourful personality means his loss will not only be felt by the Black Cat family, but also the wider Akaroa community with which he was heavily involved.”

Yates grew up in the Methven area, where his father developed Pudding Hill Lodge at the foot of Mt Hutt.

In an interview for Avenues magazine in 2018, Yates said his love of the sea came from family holidays in the Marlborough Sounds, where days were spent exploring bays in a little dinghy.

He took to fishing trawlers for 11 years as a way of funding his dream of training as a pilot, before a stint driving water taxis in Abel Tasman National Park.

A desire for less seasonal work led him to a job driving the Diamond Harbour ferry, and after the February 2011 earthquake took up skippering for Black Cat in Akaroa.

Yates was a “fantastic” member of the team, Milligan said, leading “exceptional” cruises day after day, one enjoyed by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who the skipper briefly allowed to take the wheel.

“He had a lot of close connections in Lyttelton as well as in Akaroa, so he was well known and well-liked right across the whole peninsula.”

Dolphin watching in Akaroa Harbour is a huge tourist draw.

Stuff

Dolphin watching in Akaroa Harbour is a huge tourist draw.

Yates gave himself the nickname “Capitano Juliano” – despite having no Italian heritage, Milligan said – and played in a band and flew gliders outside of work, as well as enjoying nature and the outdoors at every opportunity.

But it was his work in Akaroa Harbour, bringing the wonders of its volcanic cliffs, coves and waterfalls, its Hector’s dolphins, seals and white-flippered penguins, to thousands of visitors that gave him an enduring joy and led him to rate his job as the best he ever had.

He told Avenues: “I’m fascinated by what I’m showing people and I find the more I know, the more I have to draw on.

“When I get home from work today, I will go across to the beach for a swim. I live and work in such a beautiful place.”

Some of Black Cat Cruises’ trips from Akaroa will be affected this week as the team takes time to celebrate Yates’ life, the company said.

Source Article