How boaties, helicopter pilot teamed up to rescue Queenstown skydiver

Queenstown locals teamed up after two skydivers fell into Lake Wakatipu on Wednesday.

Helicopter pilot James Ford, Cecil Peak station manager Philip Rive and wife Kate Rive were all involved in the rescue operation.

Mr Rive told Newshub he received a call from Mr Ford at about 1:40pm, saying that two people had gone into the lake.

"He hatched the plan to come down and pick me up from the side of hill, and flew me directly to our boat, which was moored," Mr Rive said.

"To walk would have taken me about half an hour, but he had me there in about 30 seconds."

Wife Kate sprinted into the boat and drove it directly to where they could see the skydiving aeroplane circling and Mr Ford hovering in his helicopter.

Ms Rive pulled the boat alongside the skydiving instructor and the couple pulled him on board.

"He was conscious, he'd swallowed a good amount of water, there were waves breaking over his head," Mr Rive said. "He was fairly keen to get out."

NZONE has suspended its operations while the search for the missing US man continues.
NZONE has suspended its operations while the search for the missing US man continues. Photo credit: Newshub

The man was soon transferred onto a water taxi to take him to hospital, while they continued their search.

"The next step for me was to find the next person, we knew from the call that there'd been two. James was flat out looking in the air, so we continued just to do the same on the water, track up and down, until the authorities, the harbourmaster and the Coastguard turned up."

The couple had pulled both of the men's parachutes out of the water.

"I just wanted to check that there was nothing on the end of it, if you know what I mean," Mr Rive said.

"After 10 minutes, it was not looking good. With James having the ability to search, being in the air, you can search a pretty good area reasonably quickly."

Mr Rive said the group kicked in to action, as soon as they received a call about the accident.

"That's just what you do. We had the tools available to us, he had the chopper, Kate and myself had the boat - it was just a no-brainer, go.

"If it happens to me, I hope like heck someone does the same, because you haven't got long."


Contact Newshub with your story tips: