Former Gore trapper lends a hand at Pike
A former Gore possum trapper is lending a hand at Pike River as work to re-enter the mine containing 29 bodies continues.
Bryce Hesselin, now a leading aircraftsman in the New Zealand Defence Force, is part of a team assisting Solid Energy with phase one of the plan to re-enter the coalmine.
Twenty-nine men died when the mine exploded in November 2010.
Mr Hesselin travelled from Ohakea, near Palmerston North, to the West Coast on Friday as part of the defence force team deployed to clear materials from the top of the mine ventilation shaft.
The aircraft technician, who worked as a possum trapper in Gore before joining the air force in 2006, said it had been good to put training to use in real life.
Mr Hesselin has been working on the ground about 7km from the actual mine shaft, securing rigs and maintaining the NH90 helicopters at the site.
The NH90s were top military technology, with some lifting three tonne loads during the Pike River operation, he said. "Not a lot of helicopters can do that."
While working at the mine site, the crew had been staying in Greymouth, where emotions over the Pike River tragedy were still raw.
However, his experience in the town had been mostly positive.
"Most people are pretty good about it. They appreciate the job we're doing here."
Yesterday was Mr Hesselin's last day working on the Pike River project.
Solid Energy has said the re-entry plan, which will allow experts to walk down a 2.3km shaft, could take up to six months to complete.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Check out what's on in your community or post an upcoming event.
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.