CHOP­PER CRASH IN KAWEKA RANGE

5 aboard, 3 in hos­pi­tal

Hawke's Bay Today - - FRONT PAGE - Astrid Austin astrid.austin@hbto­day.co.nz

Three peo­ple are in Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal af­ter their he­li­copter crashed at Nga­matea Sta­tion, be­tween Waiouru and the Kaweka Range, on the Napier-Tai­hape Road yes­ter­day morn­ing.

As at 8.30 last night one male, in his 40s, re­mained in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion in Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal’s In­ten­sive Care Unit, while another male in his 40s was in a se­ri­ous but sta­ble con­di­tion.

One male in his 30s was in a se­ri­ous but sta­ble con­di­tion.

Two more pa­tients with mi­nor in­juries were flown to Bridge Pa aero­drome by pri­vate con­trac­tors but were not trans­ported to hos­pi­tal as hos­pi­tal treat­ment was not needed.

The Hughes MD600N he­li­copter was un­der­tak­ing a com­mer­cial sur­vey op­er­a­tion in the area, when at 8.50am, Res­cue Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­tre NZ re­ceived an alert from the ELT dis­tress bea­con on board, pro­vid­ing a lo­ca­tion at Otu­rua Stream.

RCCNZ Search and Res­cue Mis­sion Co­or­di­na­tor Dave Wil­son said another he­li­copter from the same com­pany was ini­tially sent to pro­vide a fast, ini­tial re­sponse to de­ter­mine the sit­u­a­tion, with the Green­lea Res­cue He­li­copter from Taupo ar­riv­ing on scene soon af­ter to pro­vide med­i­cal care.

Green­lea Res­cue He­li­copter pi­lot, Nat Ev­ery said they were the first he­li­copter on the scene by about 40 min­utes.

They re­sponded from Taupo with an in­ten­sive care para­medic on board, crew­man and SAR per­son­nel.

“Our in­ten­sive care para­medic was able to sta­bilise the se­ri­ously in­jured pa­tients at the scene.”

He said it be­came quite ob­vi­ous that they were go­ing to need ad­di­tional re­sources and re­quested as­sis­tance from Hawke’s Bay and Palmer­ston North.

RCCNZ tasked two ad­di­tional res­cue he­li­copters with in­ten­sive care paramedics; one from the Hawkes Bay He­li­copter Res­cue Trust and the Palmer­ston North Res­cue He­li­copter.

They used axes out of the he­li­copter to “cut a he­li­pad closer to the scene” to al­low eas­ier ac­cess to the pa­tients.

“Our para­medic re­mained on scene, as did we be­cause he was the one that knew what was go­ing on. He acted as the on-scene co­or­di­na­tor of the med­i­cal side of things and briefed all the in­com­ing paramedics and steered the pa­tients onto them.”

“Dis­tress bea­cons can sum­mon life-sav­ing help to peo­ple who need it and get them to hos­pi­tal faster. In this par­tic­u­lar case, the alert from the dis­tress bea­con was the only no­ti­fi­ca­tion that the air­craft had crashed,” Wil­son said.

“Our thoughts are with the in­jured pas­sen­gers and we wish them a suc­cess­ful re­cov­ery,” Wil­son said.

A He­li­copters Hawke’s Bay spokesman said the pi­lot has many years’ ex­pe­ri­ence fly­ing he­li­copters.

“We have been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity and Trans­port Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion, both of whom will con­duct a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ac- cident. We will be work­ing closely with them and pro­vid­ing all the in­for­ma­tion re­quired.” “At this stage it is in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment or spec­u­late on the cause of the ac­ci­dent.” He said their pri­mary con­cern was the three in­jured pa­tients and their fam­i­lies. The cir­cum­stances around the crash are still be­ing es­tab­lished. The Trans­port Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion has sent three in­ves­ti­ga­tors to the crash site and they are due to ar­rive at the site this morn­ing. The Com­mis­sion opens an in­quiry when it be­lieves the cir­cum­stances of an ac­ci­dent or in­ci­dent have, or are likely to have, sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions for trans­port safety, or when the in­quiry may al­low the Com­mis­sion to make find­ings or rec­om­men­da­tions to im­prove trans­port safety.

Photo / Sup­plied

Pic­tured is the chop­per’s ro­tor gear­box which sep­a­rated from the wreck­age. The Green­lea Res­cue He­li­copter (top of pic­ture) was on scene soon af­ter the crash.

Photo / Dun­can Brown

The Lowe Cor­po­ra­tion Res­cue He­li­copter was one of three he­li­copters that trans­ported pa­tients to Hawke’s Bay Hos­pi­tal.

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