Locals in the tiny district of Clutha are shocked and devastated by the death of a young couple in a plane crash.

Thomas John Evans, 30, and Jenna Frances Craig, 26, were killed after their Rans S6 microlight crashed at a farm at Kaka Point in The Catlins, South Otago.

The couple were both from the area, with Evans working at his family's farm near Clydevale, and Craig as a sales rep for Fonterra's Farm Source store in Balclutha.

Evans also played for the Owaka premier rugby team.


Coach Steve Clement said he was "roped in'' to play for the team this season.

"We were in danger of not being able to put a team together because of a lack of a front row.

"Tom wasn't a big guy but he had a great technique ... [he was] really strong and he did a lot of gym work - he kept himself really fit.''

Clement had previously played rugby with Evans in the Clutha senior reserves team.

"He was a general good bugger.

"He was always willing to help out and was friendly and good natured - just a good guy.''

Otago Aero Club chief flying instructor John Penno said Evans bought the plane from the club recently.

He said he did not know Evans personally, but had been told the pair were "a lovely


Evans previously studied agriculture in England, at Harper Adams University.

Craig attended South Otago High School before beginning work in Balclutha.

Farm Source stores director Jason Minkhorst told the Herald they had closed the store today, as a mark of respect to Craig.

He said staff needed the time to grieve a well-respected and liked colleague.

"She was one of the stars, had massive potential.

"She's been with us for several years, and all the farmers really liked her.

"The team's absolutely devastated. Our farmers will understand why we had to shut for the day, we're all so upset.

"We're just trying to give everyone as much support as we can."

He said it was hard to do her justice, because it was still so raw.

"She was just so well respected, by her peers, by farmers and customers.

"That's probably as much as I can get out without crumbling at the moment."

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigators arrived at the crash scene, at a farm in Wright
Rd, in Glenomaru Valley, yesterday afternoon.

Investigator-in-charge Steve Rogers said authority safety investigators met police yesterday morning and were given an extensive briefing and a large selection of photographs of the accident wreckage.

The authority took control of the crash scene at 2pm.

The investigators searched for any clues to the possible cause of the accident and left the site about 5.45pm, he said.

A guard was on duty at the crash scene overnight.

Investigators would return at 8.30am today for a detailed survey and were expected to
complete the site work today.

The owner of the farm had been interviewed, he said.

More people were expected to be interviewed today.

"It is expected the data analysis and review of interviews and reports and police assistance will enable the authority to identify the possible cause or causes of the accident," Rogers said.

"However it is far too early to speculate,'' he said.