A coroner has called for stricter health and safety rules for nightclubs after the death of a young man who collapsed at a popular Christchurch music venue after taking ecstasy.
Timothy Raymond Mertin Crozier, 23, died early on December 17, 2006 outside The Ministry nightclub on Lichfield Street. An autopsy found he had 2.8 milligrams of MDMA (ecstasy) per litre of blood in his system.
In his findings, released on Saturday, regional coroner Richard McElrea agreed with a Department of Labour investigation which concluded the level of first aid given to Crozier was "minimal" and "at worst falling below the duty of care that could reasonably be expected".
Club manager Bruce Williamson rejected the "biased" findings of the coroner, but said the club had changed some of its procedures after the death.
Crozier, a fitter and welder from the Arnold Valley on the West Coast, collapsed on the dance floor of The Ministry and was taken to the pavement outside by staff. Passers-by and other customers tried to resuscitate him and an ambulance arrived about 4.40am. The ambulance crew stopped trying to resuscitate Crozier at 4.53am.
The coroner said Crozier died of an "adverse physiological response" to taking ecstasy.
Ambulance staff said when they arrived it had been difficult to identify club staff and there had been no "handover" information.
The fact Crozier was taken to the pavement outside the club meant a crowd gathered, some of whom were angry at the "apparent indifference" of staff, the coroner said.
The inquest heard that Williamson and another staff member decided it would be unsafe to intervene due to the "antagonism".
If Crozier had been dealt with inside the club and given emergency aid by staff this problem would not have occurred, the coroner said.
"This case highlights the need for the proper training and accreditation of persons undertaking management and security work in a nightclub or similar environment."
Staff should be clearly identifiable, there should be a safe place in a club where first aid could be carried out and an effective management plan to deal with emergencies, he said.
Williamson said the club now provided a first aid room. People who fell ill were no longer taken onto the pavement to avoid "interference" from the public.
"In hindsight, we agree fully that a loss of control occurred due to that interference, and this will not be able to occur in the future," he said. But he attacked the coroner for having a "clear agenda" to criticise the club during the inquest. There had been two staff members working that night who were "fully trained and certified in advanced first aid".
Williamson said Crozier had taken a large amount of ecstasy and "only one person put those pills in the deceased's mouth, and that was himself".
The coroner said he would refer his findings to Justice Minister Simon Power.
By GILES BROWN
November 30, 2009
The Nelson Mail