Matthew Theunissen

Matthew Theunissen is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

All 11 balloon victims formally identified

Flowers and notes of condolence continue to pile up at the police cordon around the crash site on the corner of Somerset Rd and State Highway 2 in Carterton.
Photo / Sarah Ivey
Flowers and notes of condolence continue to pile up at the police cordon around the crash site on the corner of Somerset Rd and State Highway 2 in Carterton. Photo / Sarah Ivey

All 11 people killed in the January 7 hot air ballooning crash in Carterton have now been formally identified.

Coroner Peter Ryan this morning officially confirmed that the remaining five people killed were Howard Cox, 71, and his wife Diana, 63, both of Wellington, Desmond Dean, 70, and his wife Ann, 65, both of Masterton, and Denise Dellabarca, 58, of Paraparaumu.

The other six killed were Chrisjan (Johannes) Jordaan, Alexis Still, Valerie Bennett, Belinda Harter, Stephen Hopkirk and pilot Lance Hopping.

Coroner Ryan commended the work of the disaster victim identification team for presenting sufficient evidence for the bodies to be formally identified.

"The horrific nature of this tragedy meant experts faced a very difficult challenge, but their skill and dedication means we have been able to return loved ones to their families in a relatively short timeframe.

A mixture of visual identification, dental records, fingerprint, DNA and other information was used during the process, and the coroner said the formal identification would allow the families to progress the legal formalities associated with a death.

The coronial inquiry has been adjourned until the police and Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigations have been completed.

"At that time we will see what, if any, questions remain unanswered and then determine the best way forward.

"All the families can be assured that the coronial system will continue to support them and that they have my deepest sympathies,'' Coroner Ryan said.

- APNZ

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