Family farewells crash pilot

It was meant to be their special day when she stood in a church marrying "the best man in the world". Instead, she was there yesterday to bid him goodbye.

American Danielle Granahan put on her bravest face as she and 500 others farewelled her fiance, Kiwi pilot Jeremy Clarke, 32, who died when the helicopter he was flying was involved in a mid-air crash above New York's Hudson River on August 9. He and eight others died when the sightseeing craft was struck from behind by a Piper PA-32 plane.

At a funeral service on Auckland's North Shore yesterday, Granahan, 29, insisted now was not the time to discuss "who was to blame". It was a time to remember the man she met three years ago and planned to marry next year in America.

As the hearse of the former Rosmini College head boy was driven off she stood alone, not letting her eyes move from the coffin as she mouthed the words: "I love you."

Shortly after, and speaking for the first time, she told of the gap Clarke would leave in her life. "He was the love of my life the man I wanted to spend the rest of my days with. He was truly special," she said.

"If I was to say one thing about him it is that from the day he died he has been honoured."

As the funeral ended, three North Shore Aero Club helicopters hovered as mourners released yellow balloons.

Sunday News