Skydive crash couple leave behind six children

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 24/03/2014
Joey King and fiancee, former Hamilton woman Rahuia Hohua
DIED IN CRASH: Joey King and fiancee, former Hamilton woman Rahuia Hohua.

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A former Hamilton woman and mother of two was among five people killed in a fiery plane crash in Australia at the weekend.

Rahuia (Rahi) Hohua - whose Facebook page said she was originally from Hamilton - died with fiance Joey King and three others when their plane plunged into the ground shortly after taking off from the Caboolture Airfield, north of Brisbane, on Saturday.

Witnesses said the Cessna 206, which was owned by skydiving company, Adrenalin Skydivers Bribie, disintegrated in a fireball when it crashed - killing all on board.

Hohua and King - from Manurewa in Auckland - lived in Logan, Queensland, and had six children between them. Hohua was a mother of two and King a father of four.

Police have yet to release the names of the dead, but the three others on the plane were understood to be skydiving instructors Glenn Norman and Juraj Glesk and the pilot.

Hamilton-based family of Hohua were too upset to comment last night, but Hohua's brother told 3news that the accident was "crushing".

"My little sister who you just want to grab and hold and my brother-in-law - she's been there all my life," said Inia Hohua.

He said they were "beautiful people" and "infectious".

The couple had been together for a little over two years.

Just hours before the crash King posted a chilling message on Facebook about his fear of skydiving.

"So I woke up this morning nervous as hell about the sky diving today," he wrote.

"I'm about to conquer my greatest fear. I love everyone lol."

At first his friends responded by jokingly asking him to leave them his speakers and one said "it was nice meeting u bro", then Hohua joined the conversation.

"lol crack up boys", she wrote.

After bantering with his friends for two hours, King made his final post."Thanx guyz except for Chuck lol", he wrote.

Within hours of the tragedy, the messages changed to ones of concern.

Then came confirmation that it was their plane that had gone down, prompting messages of "R.I.P".

BANGS HEARD

A series of loud bangs heard before the plane crashed may provide clues to what caused the accident, investigators say.

Witnesses say the Cessna 206 veered left before crashing and bursting into flames, shortly after taking off from the Caboolture Airfield, north of Brisbane, on Saturday morning.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) spokesman says witnesses indicated the weather was clear and it had been the third flight the plane had taken that day.

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Aviation Safety Investigations' Greg Madden says investigators are interested in reports of several loud bangs when the plane was taking off.

"We'll be considering that aspect when we're looking at the wreckage, to find out what the origin of those noises was," he told AAP.

"It may end up that we take some of the aircraft components back to the ATSB facility for closer examination."

But Madden warned that the investigation would be limited because the plane was almost totally destroyed by the fire and there wasn't a lot to work with.

"This type of aeroplane is not required to have flight data recorders or anything like the larger airliners," he said.

So we're really relying on the physical evidence and witness statements to try to determine what led to this tragic accident."

Four Air Transport Safety Bureau crash investigators are working on the crash site and will examine the Cessna's mechanics, the flight controls, it's fuel situations, the impact of any crosswinds, maintenance and the pilot's history.

Airport safety officer Bryan Carpenter said the plane veered to the left just after takeoff, plunging to the ground and being engulfed by flames within a minute of impact.

Mark Thompson, from the Caboolture Warplane Museum, said it was the worst crash he'd ever seen at the airfield.

"They've had a couple of incidents here but nothing like this," said Thompson.

He ran about 200 metres to the scene after hearing a loud thud and seeing a plume of smoke.

A preliminary report would be finished in 30 days and a more detailed report finished in 12 months.

HASTINGS CRASH

Meanwhile, two men were killed in a plane crash in Hastings yesterday after it crashed into a riverbed.

Speaking at a press conference last night, Hawke's Bay and East Coast aeroclub president Bruce Govenlock confirmed a UK-trained pilot visiting New Zealand was flying the plane and an instructor was a passenger at the time of the crash.

A witness yesterday described watching as the small plane appeared to stall in a mid-air climb then nose dive with a "bang" in a devastating impact that killed two people.

The Civil Aviation Authority was now trawling trough the the wreckage to ascertain what happened.

Pilot Jeremy Bruce of the Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter was the first to spot the small plane's wreckage after the downed Tomahawk's emergency locator signal alerted rescuers to its position.

Bruce said he spotted the plane nose-down with it's tail sticking out of a deep channel.

Bruce said yesterday's crash was another blow only days after the death of Donald Carlton Kain, 53, in a helicopter crash in Gisborne on Thursday.

- With AAP

- Waikato Times

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