Poor weather hampers helicopter crash scene investigation

Liam Edwards left behind wife Jaimee, pictured, and a five-week-old son.
Glenda Turnbull

Liam Edwards left behind wife Jaimee, pictured, and a five-week-old son.

Poor weather is hampering efforts to reach the scene of a fatal helicopter crash near the Lindis Pass.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigators have been trying to reach the site where Liam Edwards, 32, of Otautau, was killed and another man was critically injured when the helicopter they were in came down in foggy conditions on April 30.

Weather conditions made a scene investigation impossible on Monday, a CAA spokesman said.

A Robinson R22 helicopter, a similar model the one involved in Saturday's fatal crash near the Lindis Pass.
Matt Clifford

A Robinson R22 helicopter, a similar model the one involved in Saturday's fatal crash near the Lindis Pass.

The three investigators were undertaking follow-up activities in Te Anau, Cromwell, and Athol, and planned to go the crash scene on Tuesday.

Edwards left behind a wife and a five-week-old son.

READ MORE: One dead in helicopter crash

The helicopter crashed east of the Lindis Pass.
@lovewalkeatsee/Instagram

The helicopter crashed east of the Lindis Pass.

The helicopter's pilot, Murray Sarginson, 51, was flown to Dunedin Hospital in a critical condition with head and chest injuries. Edwards was found dead at the scene. 

Edwards' body has been removed from the scene and taken to Oamaru, where a post-mortem was expected to take place early this week.

His devastated wife, Jaimee Edwards, said that the pair, who celebrated their first wedding anniversary in February, had welcomed son Alex just five weeks ago.

Edwards grew up in Tokoroa in the Waikato and graduated from Forest View High School. 

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An old friend from high school, who did not wish to be named, remembered him as a class clown who was well known for the blue Cortina that he drove and the time he showed up at the school ball driving a tractor. 

Edwards left Tokoroa when he was in his mid-20s.

A friend of Edwards posted on social media that he was "absolutely gutted" to hear his "true great mate" had died, while another commented that Edwards was a "true gentleman".

Janine Byars, a celebrant who officiated at Edward's wedding, posted a tribute to him on social media.

"Liam was such an easy guy to get to know and I loved his sense of humour. I caught up with them both earlier this year at another wedding near Otautau and they were very excited to share their pregnancy news. Wee Alex arrived 5 weeks ago.

"My heart goes out to Jamiee she has a tough road ahead but I know her family will be there to support her through her journey."

The helicopter was a Robinson R22. 

Sarginson was said to be "progressing favourably" and his family were in Dunedin to be with him.

Sarginson's cousin, Don Sarginson, said he was unsure what the purpose of the flight had been.

Police and the CAA launched an investigation following the incident.

A CAA spokesman said weather conditions at the scene may prevent investigators from conducting a scene examination on Sunday.

"A team of three safety investigators from Wellington arrived in Timaru around noon on Sunday and are meeting with local police to review information gathered about the accident and to look over police photographs taken at the scene.

"Weather conditions will be reviewed again later this afternoon and again tomorrow morning if necessary to determine a safe time to reach the crash site."

It was hoped Sarginson would be well enough to speak to investigators during the next few days, he said.

The accident site was about 1 kilometre from the Lindis Pass Road, he said.

A St John spokesman said St John was alerted to the incident on April 30 about 11.30am, and the Otago Rescue Helicopter was dispatched. Due to the remoteness of the location and foggy weather conditions, it did not arrive at the scene until about 12.50pm, he said.

* A previous version of this story said the crash helicopter may have been owned by Aurum Helicopters. This is not correct.

 - Stuff

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