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Sergeant Lindsay “Lou” Eion Grant and Constable Alastair Alan Sampson. Photos: NZ POLICE MUSEUM

This year marks 30 years since the deaths of Police Air Support Unit officers Sergeant Lindsay “Lou” Eion Grant, 39, and Constable Alastair Alan Sampson, 27, in a mid-air collision over Auckland.

The two men will be among those acknowledged at this year’s official Police Remembrance Day ceremony at the Police College in Porirua on Friday, September 29.

Just after 5.30pm on November 26, 1993, a traffic-spotting plane and the Police Eagle helicopter collided at 1400 feet, killing the two police officers, and raining debris onto the Auckland motorway. Eagle pilot Ross Harvey, 41, and the plane’s pilot, Allan Connors, 27, were also killed. Both aircraft were operated by Airwork NZ and were working under contract to New Zealand Police.

The left wing of the plane separated, and the aircraft rolled, dived steeply, and crashed into the elevated carriageway on the Central Motorway Junction. The wing landed on a church roof. The helicopter broke into pieces and fell onto the Grafton Road on-ramp to the Northwestern Motorway and a severe fire broke out. Miraculously, no-one on the ground was killed, possibly because the road had been cleared due to an earlier car accident.

Fellow Police Air Support Unit member former Constable Kelvin Hill told the NZ Herald in 2013 that “it took a long time to comprehend [the loss]” of his colleagues.

“We didn't fly on the Monday after the crash but on the Tuesday, all the surviving members of the unit arrived at the base. I remember a line of police along the fence and we walked to our machine and the police were all there – it was very, very moving – and we got in the machine and had a fly around Auckland. We just had to prove we could do it, that we were down but not beaten.”

As a result of the accident, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission recommended that there be a single advisory radio frequency for aircraft in uncontrolled airspace between Auckland and Whenuapai.

The Police Remembrance Day service on September 29 will honour New Zealand, Australian and South Pacific police officers killed as the result of a criminal act (slain) on duty. It will also remember Police staff – serving and retired, sworn and non-sworn – who have died in the past year and members of Police from 1886 onwards who died as a result of carrying out their duties.

The number of officers slain on duty since 1890 is 33, including, most recently, Constable Matthew Hunt, who was shot dead in Auckland on June 19, 2020.

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