Two bodies recovered from 2004 crash site

ALANA DIXON
Last updated 05:00 24/11/2012

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The remains of two bodies have been recovered by police from the scene of a 2004 helicopter crash in Fiordland.

Police have finished investigations at the scene, but no decision has been made on whether the scattered helicopter wreckage will be removed from the site.

The wreckage was discovered by a commercial helicopter pilot, Brendon Hiatt from Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters, as he was en route from Milford to Queenstown on Wednesday afternoon.

Southland police search and rescue specialists and two members of an Alpine Cliff Rescue team from Queenstown were flown into the area on Thursday to conduct a scene investigation.

Inspector Olaf Jensen, of Invercargill, said the Civil Aviation Authority had been given information that police had obtained at the site.

It was now up to the authority to investigate the cause of the crash of the Hughes 500 helicopter near the Humboldt Falls, which went missing in January 2004.

"The crash cause is for them to investigate."

It was also up to the authority to decide whether wreckage would be removed from the site, Mr Jensen said.

The two people in the helicopter when it crashed were Waikato man Campbell Montgomerie, 27, and his girlfriend, Hannah Rose Timings, 28, of Gloucestershire, England.

The bodies have been recovered from the scene and would undergo forensic testing. The matter had also been referred to the coroner.

"That will take some weeks and then it will be subject to coronial findings," Mr Jensen said.

He declined to comment on where the bodies were found, other than to say they were recovered in the general area of the wreckage.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said it was too early to say whether a further physical scene examination was needed or whether the scattered helicopter wreckage would be recovered.

A decision on whether authority investigators would visit the site would be made within the next few days, after they had gone through video and still images taken by police.

"If they can see anything that warrants further safety investigation, then obviously they'll pursue that . . . if we can see some obvious signs of equipment or mechanical failure, then we will definitely do that but until we look at this, that won't make a decision," he said.

It was amazing the helicopter had been found after so long, Mr Richards said.

"It really is a cold case - it was buried in the snow.

"It's incredible, it really is," he said.

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- The Southland Times

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