Man’s death ‘doesn’t make sense’

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

He­li­copter down

Trans­port Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion investigators trav­elled to Tyn­dall Glacier af­ter a crash that left a he­li­copter pi­lot in­jured and saw eleven tourists air­lifted from the scene on Mon­day. The pi­lot was taken to Lakes Dis­trict Hos­pi­tal and later trans­ferred to Dunedin Hos­pi­tal. He­li­copter Line di­rec­tor Mark Quickfall said the com­pany’s two he­li­copters had been tak­ing the tourists, who he be­lieved were Chi­nese, on a scenic flight. But what should have been a rea­son­ably straight­for­ward snow land­ing did not go to plan. ‘‘Both were do­ing a snow land­ing and one had landed and the other ma­chine was com­ing in to land and some­thing has gone not to plan and it’s taken a heavy land­ing,’’ Mr Quickfall said. Mr Banaghan said one he­li­copter seemed to ‘‘clip’’ a sta­tion­ary he­li­copter dur­ing its de­scent.

Fam­ily strive to make sense of freak ac­ci­dent

Po­lice are con­tin­u­ing to in­ves­ti­gate the freak road ac­ci­dent that claimed the life of a young Hawea man. Rut­ger Hale’s fam­ily can­not make sense of the 22-year-old’s death af­ter he spent years get­ting in and out of scrapes. He moved to Hawea re­cently with his girl­friend af­ter a road trip around the United States. On Thurs­day the cou­ple was driv­ing on the Lake Hawea-Al­bert Town Rd at 6.25am when an un­known, fist-sized ob­ject smashed through the wind­screen, hit­ting Mr Hale and killing him in­stantly. The ob­ject smashed through the rear of their Subaru and de­spite an ex­ten­sive search by po­lice what­ever it was has not been found. Hale’s great-un­cle Peter Phillips, who lives in Makarora and drives a school bus, said he felt ‘‘a big weight’’ as he was the only fam­ily mem­ber who still lived in the area and Hale had re­peat­edly told him he was keen to join him there. ‘‘I told him ‘you go and do your bit and when you feel like you want to set­tle down, you come back and see me’. It’s tough; re­ally, re­ally tough,’’ he said. The young cou­ple vis­ited for din­ner re­cently and he said they were clearly happy. ‘‘They were telling me about all sorts of near-misses and adventures,’’ Phillips said. ‘‘Camp­ing around wolves and bears, driv­ing through Death Val­ley, stuck on the side of moun­tains won­der­ing how they were go­ing to get off. Then he hops in a car and drives up the road and ‘whack’. It doesn’t make sense.’’

Tree stops bus gorge plunge

A ter­ri­fied Aus­tralian tourist who was on a bus that ca­reered down­hill and smashed into a pine tree, which pre­vented it plum­met­ing 80m into the Sho­tover River, says she has es­caped death a sec­ond time. ‘‘I went through breast can­cer a few years ago. I felt like a sur­vivor any­way but this was just crazy,’’ a tear­ful Sharon Jeph­son said. She was one of 25 pas­sen­gers on the Con­nectabus, trav­el­ling from Queen­stown to Ar­row­town, which skid­ded down­hill to­wards the Edith Cavell Bridge at Arthur’s Point be­fore lurch­ing to the right and hit­ting a pine tree, pre­vent­ing a plunge into the river be­low about noon on Satur­day. ‘‘It was pretty scary. We heard the brakes screech. I didn’t know if he was go­ing to turn. All I knew is there was no land past where we were go­ing,’’ she said. Four pas­sen­gers were taken to hos­pi­tal where one re­quired stitches to his head. The oth­ers were treated for bruises.

Cowan de­nies Queen­stown charge

South­land rugby player Scott Cowan has pleaded not guilty to an al­leged as­sault in Queen­stown. Cowan, 30, of Gore, a for­mer South­land Stags and High­landers half­back, ap­peared be­fore a regis­trar in the Queen­stown Dis­trict Court charged with as­sault with in­tent to in­jure in the re­sort on Oc­to­ber 12. The al­leged vic­tim was a Queen­stown man. Last week, when Cowan’s plea was en­tered, an ad­journ­ment was granted by con­sent and a date set for a case re­view hear­ing in the Queen­stown Dis­trict Court on De­cem­ber 2. Cowan has been liv­ing in Italy, play­ing for Vi­adana, af­ter fol­low­ing his older brother and for­mer All Black Jimmy Cowan, who plays for pre­mier side Glouces­ter in Eng­land, to the north­ern hemi­sphere.

Photo: DEB­BIE JAMIESON

Saved: A Con­nectabus rests against the pine tree which saved it tum­bling about 80m into the Sho­tover River on Satur­day.

Freak ac­ci­dent: Rut­ger Hale and girl­friend Danielle.

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