2degrees boss and wife presumed dead after plane crash
The chief executive of 2degrees Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy are believed to have been onboard a twin-engined plane which crashed into the sea off Kawhia, near Raglan, this afternoon.
Charlene White, 2degrees communications manager, said tonight that the company had limited information but the couple were "unlikely to have survived".
"Our focus now is to support Eric and Kathy's daughter and provide assistance to their family," she said.
The plane was on its way from Ardmore to Timaru when it ditched in the sea at 12.20pm.
The wreckage has not been found, despite search and rescue attempts, and the search will resume tomorrow morning.
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Controller John Dickson said this evening the area had been intensively searched using helicopters, a Coastguard fixed-wing aircraft, and a Raglan Coastguard vessel.
"We are confident that if the people onboard had been on the surface, they would have been found," Dickson said.
"This is obviously an extremely difficult time for the families of those involved and our thoughts are with them."
Auckland's Westpac rescue helicopter was been sent to the last known position of the aircraft and identified an oil slick and wreckage about 11 nautical miles (20km) north west of the entrance to Kawhia harbour, near Gannet Island.
The aircraft was a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron. It was owned by Hertz, a well-known aircraft buff.
Incident controller, Sergeant Warren Shaw of the Waikato Search and Rescue Squad said tomorrow's operation would involve the Wellington based Police Dive Squad conducting a search of the area where the debris was located.
Intensive care paramedic Russell Clark aboard the Auckland Westpac Rescue helicopter told Fairfax earlier this afternoon that conditions were perfect when they reached the area of the search.
"All we could see were aircraft doors and bits and pieces," he said.Intensive care paramedic Russell Clark aboard the Auckland Westpac Rescue helicopter told Fairfax conditions were perfect when they reached the area of the search.
“All we could see were aircraft doors and bits and pieces,” he said.
“It is definitely not in one piece and it is in a fairly deep piece of water. Lots of debris around.”
He said there was a boat in the area but they had seen nothing.
The water in the area is about 60m deep.