Hannah's UK family relieved mystery solved

Family members of the woman who died in a helicopter crash in Fiordland in 2004 say from England they are relieved that things have been resolved, after eight-years of uncertainty.

The remains of Waikato farmer and private pilot Campbell Montgomerie (28) and Hannah Timings (28), of Gloucestershire, England, were identified on Thursday after wreckage of the helicopter they had been flying in on January 2004 was discovered in Fiordland.

Inspector Olaf Jensen, of Southland, said the family of Ms Timings had not yet indicated whether they would come to New Zealand.

Ms Timing's sister Layla and her brother Sam organised an investigation into the accident three years ago by private investigator Gavin Grimmer. He spoke with the siblings in the UK yesterday.

"They seem to be taking it OK, but they are very concerned about their parents," Mr Grimmer said from the Hawkes Bay.

He said the Timings family felt some relief Hannah's remains had been located.

"I'm quite sure that's what they wanted."

Ms Timing's sister, Layla, had contacted Mr Grimmer in January 2009, five years after the pair went missing, and requested he investigate for Hannah's family.

"She was still beside herself and it was a heart-wrenching email, I couldn't say no.""I didn't think I would have a hope in that one [of finding the helicopter]."

The couple were on their way to Milford Sound from the Routeburn Track after spending the night in Howden Hut.

A newspaper near Ms Timings' home city of Toddington, the Gloucestershire Echo, has also reported the incident, revealing that Hannah Timings had previously worked as a furniture buyer in London before touring New Zealand.

The story also told how the Timings family had to battle with life insurers for a payout on their daughter's policy.

The remains have now been sent for forensic examination, which could take weeks, Insp Jensen said.

"It is a process which won't happen overnight."

Mr Montgomerie's parents, Elizabeth and Ian, flew to Te Anau from Auckland on Thursday night and were expected to leave the southern town yesterday, Insp Jensen said.

They declined to comment to media.

Mr Grimmer described Wednesday's discovery by Glacier Southern Lakes helicopter pilot Brendan Hiatt flying between Milford Sound and Queenstown, as "incredible" and highly unlikely, given the bush in the area was so dense and the helicopter was dark green.

"I thought a tramper might trip over it eventually," Mr Grimmer said.

"At least this time there will be an end to it ... and then they can get on with their lives.

"Some of the other cases I've investigated have had to deal with it all their lives and have taken it to their graves."

Mr Grimmer had been investigating the crash since 2009 and based his findings around the radio transmitter contact at the time of the accident.

Location of the crash site on Wednesday at Humboldt Creek occurred 7km from where Mr Montgomerie had last been in contact via radio and was north of where Mr Grimmer had estimated the crash area was.

He said the crash would have taken place within one minute of the last transmission and was likely caused by cloudy adverse weather and the pilot's overconfidence.

Mr Montgomerie had more than 200 hours of experience in aviation, but had flown just twice before in that area, including with a group of friends just two weeks earlier.

Inspector Jensen said police would not be returning to the wreckage site and had passed their findings on to the Civil Aviation Authority and the coroner.

CAA corporate communications manager Mike Richards said a crash investigation had begun and would involve examining police reports and photos.

Mr Richards said the the delay in finding the wreckage could hinder the investigation as the years of weathering would leave less for analysis.

"Every accident is important to investigate for us ... It is harder to investigate because, I hate to say it, the clues are not as fresh," Mr Richards said.


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