Funeral for pilot who died fighting Port Hill fires on Monday

Steven Askin died on Tuesday when his helicopter crashed in Christchurch's Port Hills. Photo / Facebook
Steven Askin died on Tuesday when his helicopter crashed in Christchurch's Port Hills. Photo / Facebook

The chopper pilot who died battling the raging fires on Christchurch's Port Hills is to be farewelled on Monday.

Steve Askin, 37, died on Tuesday afternoon when the helicopter he was in crashed near Sugarloaf, leaving behind his wife, Elizabeth, and children aged 7 and 4.

A friend of the family has told the Herald the service will be held in the Christchurch suburb of Wigram on Monday.

The military hero has been awarded the NZ Galantry Star for his efforts fighting for the SAS in Afghanistan in 2014. Hundreds have donated to a Givealittle page set up to help his grieving family.

By this afternoon more than $72,000 had been raised.

After his death his father spoke to the Herald of how his years of foreboding his son mightn't come home one day came true.

On Tuesday police arrived at his door to tell him his son had been killed in the chopper that went down fighting the Port Hills fires.

Paul Askin said Steve was the kind of person it was easy to be proud of.

"I always thought if I was a hostage, I would want boys like him coming to my rescue. Somebody's kid has got to do it."

He said Steve always wanted to do something worthwhile with his life.

His last conversation with his son was on Monday night, as they chatted while Steve cooked the family's dinner.

Midway through Steve got the call about the fire, warning he could be called to fight it.
He was an experienced pilot for Way To Go Heliservices, but usually did agricultural work.

Paul said Steve was excited about being able to help, and left soon after the call to make sure the helicopters were ready to go.

"He loved fighting fires, it was the best part of flying, for him,"

The accident is being investigated by police, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.

Click here to help his family

- NZ Herald

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