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Bodies Recovered from Kapiti Air Crash

Bodies Recovered from Kapiti Air Crash
New Zealand Police National News Release
10:17am 18 February 2008

Specialist investigators including the police Disaster Victim Identification team worked until nearly 3am today extricating the bodies of the two men killed when their helicopter and a light plane crashed mid-air over Paraparaumu yesterday.

Inspector John Spence, Kapiti Mana Area Police Commander and head of the police operation, said the recovery process was challenging. The Placemaker's hardware building is closed again today and will stay secured until Transport Accident Investigation Commission staff, police and other experts have removed wreckage from the scene.

"This was a horrific crash which has claimed the lives of three young men," Inspector Spence said. "Our priority is working with their families, interviewing witnesses to the crash, and working with other agencies to retrieve aircraft parts and wreckage to assist investigations."

Wellington Coroner Ian Smith has this morning approved the release of the names of the three victims.

They are:

• James David Taylor, aged 19 years, of Waikanae. Mr Taylor was the student helicopter pilot, and is originally from the Nelson Lakes area.

• David Mark Fielding, aged 30 years, a rescue pilot from Palmerston North. Mr Fielding was the flight examiner on the helicopter and was testing Mr Taylor.

• Bevan Andrew Hookway, aged 17 years, of Raumati South. Mr Hookway, a senior student at Kapiti College, was piloting the Cessna aircraft and died in Wellington Hospital from injuries received in the crash.

Post mortems are being held in Wellington today.

"Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all those involved in this dreadful accident," Inspector Spence said. "Police, Victim Support and other agencies are working closely with the families and those who knew these fine young men."

He said assistance is also being offered to witnesses, residents who had to flee their homes as wreckage tumbled from the sky, and to Placemakers stuff and customers.

Counselling services are also in place at Kapiti College where Bevan Hookway was a senior student. [Correction: Bevan Hookway, the 17-year-old Cessna pilot who died following yesterday's air crash in Paraparaumu was flying through the Kapiti Aero Club and not as part of his NCEA studies as earlier advised. He was undertaking correspondence studies in Aviation through Kapiti College.]

"We are extremely fortunate there were no other injuries," he said. "The crash happened at a busy time of day and in both retail and residential areas.

"There were some very close calls both for young staff in the Placemakers timber yard and for residents who fled their homes."

Both scenes will remain guarded until the wreckage is cleared, a process which could take some time.

"We need to be absolutely certain that all scenes are free of debris and cleaned before they can be reopened and habitable," Inspector Spence said.

Police search teams will today scour paddocks behind Placemakers looking for helicopter parts or other items of interest.

Police urge residents who find wreckage or debris from either the helicopter or the Cessna to leave the items in place, and to contact Kapiti Police Station. Officers will then plot, record and remove the items. These items could be critical in finding out why the crash happened.

About 60 police and air accident staff are working on the operation.


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