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Pilot's body pulled from Lake Sumner

Published: 2:50PM Monday June 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

  • Lake Sumner.  (Source: Craig Allen )
    Lake Sumner. - Source: Craig Allen

Police have recovered the body of missing helicopter pilot Michael Mehrtens following an underwater search of Lake Sumner.

The Police National Dive Squad found an "item of interest" yesterday while searching the lake with a sonar device, and after further investigation pulled the pilot's body from the lake at around 5pm.

"The recovery team has been on the water since 6.30 this morning, using a NIWA submersible remote-operated vehicle to locate and retrieve the item - which is now confirmed to have been Mr Mehrtens' body," Canterbury Police Operations Manager, Inspector Craig McKay, said.

"The operation today required four attempts using the manipulator arm on the ROV to latch on to the body, then bring it up to a depth of 30 metres where it was retrieved by Police divers."

McKay said the body was where helicopter wreckage had previously been located, on the lake bed at a depth of 127 metres.

Mehrtens' body will be brought back to Christchurch tomorrow and released to his family once a post-mortem examination has been completed.

Mehrtens, 35, went missing after crashing his helicopter into the lake on May 21.

Plans to resume the search last week had to be delayed because of the severe weather conditions.

The access road to the operational site at the lake was cleared of snow on Saturday, allowing the police divers to resume the search yesterday.