Man’s death ‘doesn’t make sense’
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.
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.