West Coast news on Stuff.co.nz
The helicopter which crashed in thick bush on the West Coast yesterday injuring two people belonged to the family of convicted greenstone thieves David and Morgan Saxton.
The Hughes 369, owned by Haast-based Heliventures, went down near the Maori Saddle hut on the historic Haast Paringa cattle track about 11am.
The pilot and one of the three Department of Conservation passengers suffered broken legs in the crash and are recovering in Grey Base Hospital.
Heliventures is owned by the Saxton family and operated by convicted pounamu thieves father and son David and Morgan Saxton.
The pair were recently released from serving a 2-1/2-year prison sentence pending their appeal against conviction.
They were found guilty of stealing Ngai Tahu pounamu worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from South Westland's Cascade Plateau.
Neither was on board yesterday.
The helicopter was carrying the DOC workers to a remote site to carry out repairs to the cattle track.
Police incident controller, Constable Mike Tinnelly, said Civil Aviation Authority inspectors were en route this morning to the site, southeast of Lake Moeraki.
"I was told by crew members that damage to the helicopter was pretty severe. It will stay where it is until the CAA are happy and have finished their investigations into the cause of the crash.''
Solid Energy Rescue Helicopter pilot Steve Batchelor, who flew into the site to collect the injured pilot, Dave Jellie, said the machine appeared to have been severely damaged.
It looks as though they have come in to land and something has gone wrong.
Batchelor said the two passengers who were unhurt pulled the two injured men clear of the wreckage and one went to get help.
A Heliventures spokeswoman said she was unaware of the state of the smashed helicopter.
"However, we are very grateful and fortunate that we aren't dealing with anything more serious than a broken leg.''
She said Mr Jellie had received the most severe injuries and was due to get his broken leg pinned today.
"He is in very good spirits despite his injury.''A helicopter crash in remote South Westland bush has left two people with broken legs.