Chopper crash victim 'lived life at full throttle'
CHE BAKER AND KELLY DENNETT
The Auckland man killed in a helicopter crash on the snowy slopes of Mt Alta, near Wanaka, lived life "at full throttle."
Jerome Box, 52, of Grey Lynn died when the chopper he and a group of heli-skiers were flying in came down yesterday. Five of his group were also injured.
The five skiers were members of Auckland's St Paul's Church parish.
Their priest said this afternoon Box's family was in shock and doing the best they could.
"He was an amazing guy who loved his family incredibly dearly. He lived life at the top throttle," Mathew Newton said.
Box was an experienced skier who had been a lead instigator of the heli-skiing trip, he said.
His injured friends were dealing with a mixture of emotions including survivors guilt, Newton said.
"The major thing for them is not the physical injuries but the mental trauma.
"Although we're a large church we're a tight group of people. It was a real shock for a number of us but in saying that there's an amazing sense of people coming together and there's huge support for the family of the deceased and the men who were injured."
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has launched an inquiry into the crash and investigators were expected to inspect the site later today or tomorrow.
The wreckage of the Helicopter Line-operated Squirrel AS350 B2 belonging to Harris Mountains Heliski remained on the mountain after it crashed yesterday when it was believed it clipped the side of the mountain.
Commission communications and investigation support general manager Peter Northcote said it was ''to early'' to decide what would happen with the wreckage of the helicopter.
The pilot, believed to be Dave Matthews, suffered minor injuries in the crash.
HMH director Mark Quickfall said the company would assist and work with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident.
- The Southland Times