Long wait for answers after skydive tragedy

By Jimmy Ellingham, Kurt Bayer

Queensland skydive flight that turned to tragedy was Kiwi woman's gift to fiance.

Rahi Hohua (right) and Joseph King were killed in a weekend skydiving accident.
Rahi Hohua (right) and Joseph King were killed in a weekend skydiving accident.

The families of two New Zealanders killed in a fiery Queensland plane crash have been told by air accident investigators to wait for more than three weeks for answers.

Joseph King, 32, and his fiancee Rahi Hohua, 27, were among five people killed on Saturday when the skydiving plane they were in crashed in flames at Caboolture airfield, 50km north of Brisbane.

The aircraft took off and had barely left the runway when it veered left and hit the ground.

The King family are coming to terms with the tragedy.

A church service is being held at uncle Maurice's home in Manurewa this afternoon before he flies to Australia tonight.

Joey's uncle, Maurice King, 53, is the family spokesman.

He has already been in communication with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau who have told him that the investigation will take "three weeks, if not more''.

"I've got a contact person over there who'll be meeting me tomorrow,'' Maurice said.

"We'll be going through their procedures and be going through what I can be doing as a family member.

"There's lots of things to do over there, not just the crash.

"I'll go and see Rahi's family members and her two kids.

"And we need to think about the others that were involved in the crash as well, not just Joe and Rahi. Our condolences go out to them as well.''

Mr King, a former Manurewa High School student who moved to Australia a few years ago to be closer to his three children - Tristan and Nikita who live in Perth with their mother, and Trinity who lives with her mother in Brisbane - confessed he was as "nervous as hell'' about Saturday's skydive.

"So I woke up this morning nervous as hell about the sky diving today. I'm about to conquer my greatest fear. I love everyone lol,'' he wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday morning.

Former Hamiltonian Rahi Hohua and her fiance Joseph King, originally from Manurewa, were killed when the 
Cessna  they were to skydive from crashed on Saturday.
Former Hamiltonian Rahi Hohua and her fiance Joseph King, originally from Manurewa, were killed when the Cessna they were to skydive from crashed on Saturday.

Ms Hohua, a nail technician and mother of two children, was originally from Hamilton. She lived with Mr King in Logan, Queensland.

They had been together for more than two years and planned to marry, Ms Hohua's brother Inia Hohua told reporters at Caboolture airfield.

"Honestly, words fail and it's just crushing,'' he said.

Mr Hohua said family members had rushed to the crash scene and were supporting each other.

The Cessna 206 they were travelling in, run by Adrenalin Skydivers, crashed in what local police labelled an "unsurvivable'' plunge to the ground.

Among the dead were experienced instructors Glenn Norman and Jurag Glesk, who had thousands of jumps under their belts.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating what happened.

The Sunday Mail newspaper reported that Adrenalin Skydivers was involved in a similar incident in 2010 when seven people survived a crash when a plane suffered engine trouble on takeoff.

Investigators are looking at mechanical failure connections between the crashes.

Maurice said his nephew, who worked for Metcash, an Australian distribution and marketing company, will be brought back to New Zealand for a funeral.

His mother, Lucille died in 2001, and his father and not been around since he was very young, Maurice said.

The family was "all very upset'' at the loss of a special, caring family member, he said.

Mr King would be best summed up by his actions earlier this month when he, and Rahi, went to Melbourne to visit his ill aunty Rose in hospital.

"They spent from Wednesday to Saturday with her, and it was great they could do that. Rose is much better now and out of hospital,'' Maurice said.

"Joe made sure he did his part - for his mum I suppose - but that was the kind of guy he was. He'll be greatly missed.''

The Australian Parachute Federation (APF) will conduct its own investigation into the crash, parallel to the ATSB probe, the ABC reported.

APF spokesman Grahame Hill told the ABC it was the third flight of the day, the pilot was competent, and conditions were "close to ideal''.

"We haven't come up with anything definitive at all yet - we need to know certain things about the aeroplane, what they can glean from the crash site itself,'' he said.

What happened to the plane?

* The Cessna takes off just after 11.30am local time.
* It gets to the end of the runway and lifts off.
* As it reaches 100ft to 200ft off the ground, it banks sharply to the left before plunging to the ground.
* All five people on board are killed.

- APNZ

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