Fiordland helicopter crash pair identified

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 23/03/2013

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The remains of a young couple recovered from a helicopter crash site in remote Fiordland have been formally identified.

Wreckage of a Hughes 500 helicopter, which went missing in 2004 with pilot Campbell Montgomerie, 27, of Waikato, and Hannah Timings, 28, of Gloucestershire in England, was found near the head of Humboldt Creek in November.

The wreckage was spotted by Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters pilot Brendan Hiatt during a scenic flight.

Although the pair was declared dead at an inquest in 2004 the case was referred to the office of the chief coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, when the wreckage was found and human remains were recovered.

Judge MacLean said the remains were identified using a combination of circumstantial evidence and bone analysis.

"[It] was a challenging matter."

There was still no decision regarding re-opening an inquest in New Zealand but the chief coroner previously said any proceedings required the approval of the solicitor-general and consultation with families because Mr Montgomerie and Ms Timings were declared dead in 2004.

There were complex jurisdictional matters to consider and the Ministry of Justice legal department would investigate, he said.

An inquest in Britain for Ms Timings was unlikely as remains were cremated and therefore there was no body returned to England.

According to an alpine cliff rescuer who catalogued the crash site, the scattered debris field suggested a high-speed, explosive impact.

Debris was driven into the rock and spread over a cliff, a steep tiered bluff and a rocky tussock-covered apron along a valley wall in difficult terrain on the extremes of the original search sectors. Searchers recovered a partially intact tail boom, clam shells that formed part of the exterior engine housing, pieces of a gearbox, engine, other metal pieces and melted material.

The Civil Aviation Authority chose not to investigate.

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