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The Director-General Al Morrison says all DOC staff are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of their colleagues who died while helping fight a Northland fire overnight.
Police have yet to formally identify the bodies but DOC says 54 year old Kaitaia ranger, William MacRae, was working in the helicopter which crashed into the sea off the Karikari Peninsula.
Mr MacRae, along with the helicopter’s pilot, was helping to fight a large scrub fire at the time of the accident.
Al Morrison says William MacRae was a long serving and highly respected ranger who has worked in the Far North for DOC for 16 years.
“William was highly experienced in dealing with the full range of emergencies that DOC staff have to deal with - from fighting fires to dealing with whale strandings.”
He died while trying to protect others and our deepest condolences go to his partner and family.”
“William’s partner and his brother both work for the local DOC office – his death is a huge blow for both his family and local DOC staff and we ask media to respect their privacy at this time.”
Mr Morrison says the department’s focus was on supporting Mr MacRae’s family and close colleagues and would continue to provide on-going support in the immediate future.
Mr Morrison says the department also extended it’s condolences to the family of the Northland helicopter pilot. He had worked closely with the Department for many years and his loss would also be widely felt within DOC.