Helicopters ferried patients to the Wanaka Medical Centre
between 2pm and 3pm yesterday. Photo: Mark Price
Police have named the man who was killed when a
helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain near Wanaka
Jerome Box (52), from Grey Lynn in Auckland, was a member of
an Auckland church group going heli skiing for the day.
Debris was strewn for almost 1km after the helicopter clipped
the north face of Mt Alta just after noon, killing Mr Box and
injuring the six others on board.
Five parishioners from St Pauls Church, Symonds St, were on
the $875-per-person heli-ski flight.
Seven men - the five parishioners, veteran guide Mark Sedon
and the pilot Dave Matthews - were on board the Helicopter
Line-operated Squirrel AS350 B2.
A major search and rescue effort involving up to a dozen
helicopters retrieved the dead man and the injured off the
Matthews sustained minor injuries.
Harris Mountains Heliski director Mark Quickfall said the
five men were on a skiing holiday and staying in Queenstown.
They were part of a larger group, some of whom went to Treble
Cone yesterday instead.
"We're thinking of the poor fellow's wife tonight and his
family. It's terribly devastating."
Quickfall understood the families of the skiers were
supporting one another.
Senior Sergeant Gavin Briggs, of Dunedin, said all six
survivors were injured - four seriously - and were flown off
Snr Sgt Briggs said four were later flown to Dunedin Hospital
in serious but stable conditions. Two were treated in Wanaka
for minor injuries.
Transport Accident Investigation Commission spokesman Peter
Northcote said investigators would travel to the crash site
Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said the
authority may be asked to help because of the scale and
location of the site.
"I understand they clipped the mountain and the wreckage is
spread 1000m down the side of the mountain. [The TAIC] may
need more manpower ... it will be a very complex jigsaw
puzzle for the investigators."
Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter chief pilot Graeme Gale said
conditions were "calm and clear".
The crash is the latest black mark for tourism, in the midst
of a shake-up prompted by the parents of young tourists
killed in adventure activities.
Tough new safety standards are being introduced over a
three-year period until November this year, after which it
will be an offence for an adventure activity operator not to
be registered and have passed a safety audit.
Prime Minister John Key, in his role as Tourism Minister,
launched the review after British father Chris Jordan wrote
to him, pleading for changes. Jordan's daughter Emily drowned
riverboarding in Queenstown in 2008. Mad Dog River Boarding
admitted two charges over the death.
British man Chris Coker, whose son Bradley was one of nine
killed when a skydiving plane crashed at Fox Glacier in 2010,
also wrote to Key asking for aviation regulations to be
reviewed. Coker also launched a high-profile internet
campaign claiming New Zealand is unsafe.
Mr Key declined to comment on the tragedy last night as it
was under investigation. "The Prime Minister expresses
sympathy to those affected by today's helicopter accident," a
CAA's Mike Richards said the crash was "not a good look for
- Herald on Sunday