Both bodies recovered

Divers work to recover the bodies off Raglan. Photo / Royal NZ Navy Facebook page
Divers work to recover the bodies off Raglan. Photo / Royal NZ Navy Facebook page

The second of two bodies and part of the light plane which crashed off the Waikato coast last weekend have been recovered by Navy divers this afternoon.

Eric Hertz, the chief executive of 2degrees mobile, and his wife Kathy were killed when their plane ditched at high speed off the Kawhia Coast last Saturday.

One body was brought up from the upturned plane wreckage 56 metres below the surface yesterday and a second body was retrieved today, police said.

In a statement, the family of the couple said the recovery of the bodies was an immense relief.

"Knowing that they can rest together in peace and that we can say our farewells is of huge comfort at this time.

"By safely recovering the aircraft, despite such challenging conditions and without serious injury to those involved, the rescue authorities have made a huge contribution to us and the wider aviation community. We can now look forward to one day understanding what happened.

"Again, we would like to acknowledge the determination of these people in pursuing such a difficult recovery. We hope the community of New Zealand does not need the services of these extremely committed people, but can assure them that if they do then there is a remarkable team ready to act in such testing times.''

Waikato police operations manager Inspector John Kelly said it was with a great deal of satisfaction, tinged with sadness, that he announced the successful recovery of the second body.

"At the same time the Navy has been successful in recovering a significant part of the wreckage. All staffed involved in the operation, both professional and volunteers, are privileged to have been able to return Eric and Katherine to their family and friends."

The bodies would undergo post-mortem examinations in Auckland.

"Family and friends of the Hertz's have been informed of the recovery and expressed their gratitude for the efforts of all the agencies involved," Mr Kelly said.

The remains of the Beechcraft plane would travel by sea to Auckland on the deck of the HMNZS Manawanui over the next 48 hours accompanied by a CAA safety investigator.

"The wreckage will be held in a secure workshop at the Navy base at Devonport for 72 hours and will be cleaned of saltwater or other debris from the ocean floor and will be closely examined for any initial signs of non-impact mechanical failure or other damage," CAA spokesman Mike Richards said.

"The incredible effort of the police and Navy has given us a much better opportunity to piece together what happened last Saturday," he said.

After the initial 72 hours of examination, the wreckage would be moved to the CAA's secure workshop in Lower Hutt where a detailed examination would continue.

There were three CAA investigators working on the accident.

"Essentially there are three components to the investigation: the man, the machine and the environment. The CAA will be reviewing all radar plots and records for the aircraft and its flight history including a full physical examination of the wreckage itself, the physiological reports on the pilot that come from the coroner and a review of the meteorological records and weather conditions on the day of the flight," Mr Richards said.

- APNZ

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