Fundraisers rally for pilot

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 18/07/2014
Grant McCallum
DEREK FLYNN/ Fairfax NZ
RISK FOR RESCUE: Helicopter pilot Grant McCallum with his son Tom and wife Sue at Wairau Hospital.

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A fundraising page has been set up for the family of a Marlborough pilot who risked his life to save a hunting mate when a helicopter landing went horribly wrong.

Blenheim woman Di Morrissey set up the Give A Little page yesterday after reading a story about Grant McCallum's split-second decision to crash his helicopter into a gully on a Grassmere farm on July 6, to prevent Sam Kersten, 31, from falling.

Morrissey, whose mother had been best friends with McCallum's mother, said she wanted to help the family get through the tough times ahead.

"He's been through a lot in his life," she said.

"He didn't want Sam's children to lose their father, that's why he did what he did to save him."

Grant McCallum's wife, Sue McCallum, said the accident was the second devastating experience for her husband.

In 1998, his children Stuart, 5, Katie, 4, Billy, 2, and their mother, Tracey McCallum, were killed when their car hit a bank and burst into flames on the Port Underwood Road, 20km north of Blenheim.

"He's had a lot of trauma to deal with in his life," she said.

"This has been really tough on him."

McCallum, 45, broke his left femur and his right hand, fractured all his ribs, and required stitches to repair the deep gashes and cuts in his leg when his Schweizer 269c helicopter went down.

Kerstenbroke both his legs and injured his hips and ribs.

Sue McCallum said her husband did not have income insurance after being rejected by six insurance companies due to the high-risk nature of his job.

He was a "one-man band" with his two companies, Cloudy Bay Helicopters and transport company McCallum Carters Contractors, and would not be back at work for at least six months, she said.

The helicopter was insured, but had a "massive excess" and wouldn't be replaced until the right helicopter was found.

McCallum, who had stopped work to look after her husband, said the family, including their 14-year-old son, were going through a hard time, but they hadn't given up.

"We will get through this," she said.

She was "overwhelmed" with the support from friends and strangers since the accident.

"It just shows there are beautiful people in the community."

For more information, go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/grantmccallum

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- The Marlborough Express

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