Candles lit to remember Carterton victims
Monday 7 Jan 2013 6:06 p.m.
A remembrance service has been held in Carterton to mark the first anniversary of the Carterton balloon tragedy.
It was New Zealand’s worst aviation tragedy since Erebus, and the small town of Carterton is still grieving, along with the families of the victims.
Family and friends of each of the 11 victims of the balloon crash lit candles of remembrance today. Carterton's mayor assured them all they are not alone.
“We share your grief, your sorrow, and there is rarely a day that goes by that we don't think of your loved ones,” says Mayor Ron Mark.
A year ago today pilot Lance Hopping and his 10 passengers died after their balloon hit power lines on Somerset Rd and caught fire.
Stephen Hopkirk's sister was grateful Carterton held the service, which more than 200 people went to.
“We're just so thankful for the people here in Carterton that they remembered this day for us,” she says.
At the crash sites flowers were laid.
A balloonist told 3 News they all try to avoid flying in the area. Emotions around the tragedy are still raw.
Early this morning a small team of Mr Hopping's workmates held their own memorial.
“We went down to the accident site and let off 11 helium balloons, and that was really special and personal,” says photographer Geoff Walker.
Mr Walker captured the horrific scene as it happened. His photos are a key part in the investigation into the crash.
“What a privilege, what an honour to be able to feel useful when everyone feels so helpless and hopeless. It's been a great honour.”
The findings will be released later this year.