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Originally published Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 9:05 PM

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Bodies of American exec, wife found in New Zealand

New Zealand navy divers have recovered the bodies of American wireless executive Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy after their small plane crashed in the South Pacific.

The Associated Press

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand —

New Zealand navy divers have recovered the bodies of American wireless executive Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy after their small plane crashed in the South Pacific.

Divers recovered a second body Sunday from the wreck of the couple's twin-engine Beechcraft Baron at a depth of 56 meters (184 feet). They recovered the first body Saturday near Kawhia Harbour, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of Auckland. Divers were also able to recover pieces of the plane.

Hertz, an experienced amateur pilot, radioed authorities March 30 to say the engine had failed. The couple had left from an airport near Auckland bound for the South Island town of Timaru.

Hertz, 58, had been chief executive of New Zealand's Two Degrees Mobile since 2009. He'd previously been chief executive at Seattle's Zumobi and held senior positions at Western Wireless, AT&T Wireless, Bell South, CellularONE and McCaw Cellular.

In New Zealand, Hertz helped launch Two Degrees as a competitor to the dominant wireless providers, Telecom and Vodafone. The company is majority owned by Washington state-based Trilogy International, co-founded by wireless pioneer John Stanton. Two Degrees has named Trilogy's Stewart Sherriff as interim chief executive.

Kathy Picone Hertz, 64, worked for the Auckland University of Technology, helping youth prepare for the workforce.

In a statement, the families of the couple thanked rescue teams for their efforts in the challenging ocean conditions and said they looked forward to one day understanding what happened.

"The recovery of Eric and Kathy, along with the wreckage of the aircraft, is of immense relief to us all," the families wrote. "Knowing that they can rest together in peace and that we can say our farewells is of huge comfort at this time."

A private memorial service has been scheduled Thursday in Auckland.

The couple is survived by daughter Ari Hertz.

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