Viewers thought they were tuning in to watch a webcast of Auckland’s Christmas tree being hoisted into place when they signed onto TVNZ’s site yesterday morning. Instead they witnessed this: A helicopter snapping in two as it crashes to the worksite below. Miraculously no one was seriously injured in the incident, TVNZ reports—the chopper missed the half-dozen people below. Pilot Greg Gribble was taken to the hospital after being thrown halfway out of the chopper, but is fine.
Bits of the helicopter were hurled through the air, with some smashing windows at an event center hundreds of yards away. Some have questioned the wisdom of operating a helicopter in such tight confines, and the Civil Aviation Authority has launched an investigation. Gribble, meanwhile, is still too shaken to talk about the incident. “He’s just been sitting in the chair, shell-shocked,” his wife tells Auckland Now. “He’s very, very lucky. God was on his side.” (Read more helicopter crash stories.)