Family has no regrets after chopper crash verdict


The father of a Napier victim killed in an Air Force helicopter crash has welcomed the verdict after a squadron leader was cleared of negligence.

Peter Madsen told Hawke's Bay Today he could see no point in pursuing Flight Lieutenant Dan Pezaro, who was found not guilty yesterday at the end of a Military Tribunal hearing at Ohakea.

The officer was in charge of a three-helicopter Anzac Day 2010 mission from Ohakea to Wellington, when one of the Iroquois crashed near the Kapiti Coast, killing Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen , 33, Flying Officer Dan Gregory, 28, and 25-year-old Corporal Ben Carson. When asked about the role of the charged officer, who had been accused of negligently failing to abort the mission when conditions deteriorated to unsafe degrees, Mr Madsen said his son and Flight Lieutenant Pezaro had been "best mates".

"The man's got to live with what happened the rest of his life," said Mr Madsen.

"That's enough. I couldn't see any point in carrying on with it."

He and wife Julie said they hoped the issues would now "quiet down" and the rest of the issues uncovered within the Air Force will be dealt with internally "so everyone else can get on with their lives". After the verdict, Flight Lieutenant Pezaro faced the media with his wife Carol who, like Hayden Madsen's wife, is also in the Air Force.

He said he understood why it was important to have a full and thorough investigation.

"But it is a relief that after nearly three years that this has come to an end," he added.

"I have been haunted by the events of the day of Anzac Day 2010 and constantly going over in my mind what I could have done differently.

"I really feel for all the family members involved in this terribly tragedy and I hope this gives them closure on the event," he said.

Flight Lieutenant Pezaro also thanked his family for their support throughout the process.

When the verdict was announced by Wing Commander Shaun Sexton, Flight Lieutenant Pezaro smiled and shook hands with his defending officer, Squadron Leader Ron Thacker, before hugging members of his family. In giving his decision, the disciplinary officer hearing the case, Mr Sexton, said all elements of the charge needed to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

"I am not able to do so in this case," he said.

He added that it was not in dispute that Daniel John Pezaro was in command of Iroquois Black on the morning of April 25,

2010, that in the vicinity of Paraparaumu the cloud conditions deteriorated below minimum flying standard, and that Pezaro failed to abort the transit.

What was in dispute was whether the duty to abort the flight was imposed by service orders, training or custom, that a reasonable capable and careful officer of similar seniority and experience would have known it was their duty, and would not have failed to abort the flight.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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