Search for missing Pilot and toddler called off
August 16, 2019 12:50 pm
The search for the white Robinson 44 DQ-HPT helicopter along with its pilot and a 2-year-old passenger has been called off.
The decision was made today following 13 days of searching in the Natewa Bay, Vanua Levu.
Investigator-in-charge Andrew McGregor says they have done everything they could to find the main wreckage and the two individuals but the conditions in the Bay have proved too difficult.
McGregor says it is likely the helicopter broke up into smaller pieces and with the strong current, it would have been carried several miles out of the search area.
He adds, even with more extensive search resources, they still wouldn’t have been able to find it, so all those involved in the operation have decided to call it off.
McGregor says a large part of the search area is over sunken reef which is hazardous to sea crafts and the specialist sonar equipment used by the Navy.
He adds, the channels between the reefs are very deep and limit diver capability.
The undercurrent also made diving difficult.
During the search, the teams managed to find pieces of the aluminum skin of the helicopter, seat cushions and personal items as well as body of the female passenger.
McGregor says regrettably they haven’t been able to find the body of pilot Captain Gilbert Parker and two-year-old Epeli Jeremaiah.
Despite the search being called off, the investigation into the crash will continue and it is likely to be months before the findings are released.