Tourists airlifted to safety after chopper crash
LOUISE BERWICK AND JOHN EDENS
LATEST: Investigators are flying to the crash site in Mt Aspiring National Park today after a scenic flight helicopter clipped a second stationary chopper and crash landed on a glacier.
The Helicopter Line Squirrel apparently clipped a second stationary craft on the Tyndall glacier near the head of the Shotover River and rolled during a snow landing on Monday about 3pm.
Eleven tourists and two pilots were airlifted from the glacier.
The pilot of the stationary craft was Pete Saxton and the injured Squirrel pilot was Kerry Somerville, who was flown to Dunedin Hospital on Monday with serious injuries.
Both pilots are highly experienced.
The airborne chopper was carrying six passengers while the stationary craft was carrying five people. All the passengers were part of an Asian tour group on a snow landing scenic flight.
Helicopter Line director Mark Quickfall said the injured pilot was in a stable condition but he did not know the nature of injuries. Staff and family members travelled to Dunedin today, he said.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an inquiry into the accident and two investigators arrived in Queenstown today.
They plan to gather background material, interview witnesses and inspect the crash site.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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