Fatal chopper crash report not finished

A Civil Aviation Authority report into a helicopter crash which killed two Far North men a year ago will be completed early next year.

Department of Conservation ranger William Macrae, of Awanui, and pilot John "Prickles" de Ridder, of Kerikeri, died when their Salt Air helicopter crashed into Karikari Bay on the night of November 30, 2011.

The men had originally been flying reconnaissance over a devastating fire on the Karikari Peninsula, but were re-tasked with a search and rescue mission for five people trapped between the sea and the advancing flames. A powerful wind was blowing thick clouds of smoke out to sea at the time.

The trapped people eventually managed to row out to sea in a dinghy and were picked up by a commercial fishing boat.

CAA spokesman Mike Richards said the safety investigators' final report would be released by the end of February, 2013.

About 70 family members, friends, colleagues and members of Karikari hapu Te Whanau Moana and Te Rorohuri gathered at the point nearest the crash site on November 30 to remember the men and celebrate their lives.

No one has been charged in relation to the deliberately lit fire.

- The Northern Advocate

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