Chopper horror: Half a metre from death

By Chloe Johnson

Photo / Sarah Ivey
Photo / Sarah Ivey

Rigger Scott Anderson is lucky to be alive.

But the 41-year-old who pulled on a cable seconds before a helicopter came crashing down in Auckland's Viaduct Basin, feels like death. Footage of the crash captured by cameraman Murray Job has become a world sensation. However, the man who was narrowly missed by the tumbling aircraft was still distressed yesterday.

"I'm pretty disappointed and devastated about the situation and I'm just glad no one was injured," Anderson said.

The owner of Henderson company Uni-Rig was responsible for releasing a cable from the helicopter which was being used to erect the city's seven-storey Telecom Christmas tree at 10.30am on Wednesday.

The helicopter's rotor blades clipped the cable causing the aircraft to spin out of control, narrowly missing Anderson who was standing right beneath it. "I just got down and hoped I didn't get nailed by it ...

"I knew the tailbone was coming at me and Byron, who was on other side, said it passed over me by half a metre."

Anderson immediately jumped up and ran to check on pilot Greg Gribble who, miraculously, was uninjured.

"I ran to the cockpit and shut the helicopter down, there was fuel everywhere, I spoke to Greg [Gribble], unlocked him, and helped him walk away," he said. "I'm lucky to be alive."

Anderson, who has also been a pilot, said he had successfully completed at least 60 similar jobs with Gribble and the helicopter he was flying.

"It's a real shame, for a lot of reasons, but one is, it was a simple job that I've done thousands of times with helicopters and I've worked with Greg [before] so they would be lucky to find another team that is more experienced."

He said the past four days had been difficult, knowing some people blamed him for the crash. However, he was confident it was an accident and he had correctly followed the documented plan.

"Your pride takes a beating, from what I can ascertain I was classed as a villain," he said. "I didn't act negligently or recklessly in any shape or form. The results were horrific and I'm not trying to shun responsibility, or not blame myself, but I am devastated with what happened and super thankful no one was hurt."

Anderson has been interviewed by the Civil Aviation Authority which is investigating the incident.

The Christmas tree will be erected tomorrow using cranes.

- Herald on Sunday

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