Recently married couple among 4 killed in Australia chopper horror

A recently married couple was among four people killed in a mid-air collision of helicopters over a crowded waterfront at a popular Australian tourist hotspot Monday.

The horror crash occurred near Main Beach on Australia’s Gold Coast and involved two aircraft operated by Sea World Helicopters that were carrying a total of 13 people, including the pilots.

One of the pilots died in the crash, while the other miraculously landed his aircraft safely on a sandy outcrop despite being damaged in the collision.

“Considering the damage that was done to the front left-hand section of the helicopter, where the pilot was sitting, that has been a remarkable achievement,” said Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell, whose office is investigating the crash.

“So whilst it has been very tragic that four people have lost their lives and many people are mourning this morning, we could have had a far worse situation here, and the fact that one helicopter managed to land has been quite remarkable,” Mitchell added. .

Two mangled tour helicopters remain on the shore after their deadly collision on Australia’s Gold Coast on Monday.
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Diane Hughes, 57, and her husband Ron Hughes, 65, from the UK, pictured on their wedding day in 2021, were among the dead.
Diane Hughes, 57, and her husband Ron Hughes, 65, from the UK, pictured on their wedding day in 2021, were among the dead.
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Vanessa Tadros, 36, from Sydney, was killed, while her 10-year-old suffered critical injuries.
Vanessa Tadros, 36, from Sydney was killed, while her 10-year-old son suffered critical injuries.
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The victims have been identified as Diane Hughes, 57, and her husband Ron Hughes, 65, from the UK; Vanessa Tadros, 36, of Sydney, Australia, and veteran Sea World Helicopters pilot Ashley Jenkinson, 40.

Three passengers, including two children, were seriously injured in the crash.

Tadros’s 10-year-old son remained hospitalized in critical condition, along with 33-year-old Winnie de Silva from Geelong. De Silva’s 9-year-old son, Leon, was in stable condition, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

The crash claimed the life of veteran Sea World Helicopters pilot Ashley Jenkinson, 40, who welcomed a son in September.
The crash claimed the life of veteran Sea World Helicopters pilot Ashley Jenkinson, 40, who welcomed a son in September.
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De Silva’s husband, Neil, wrote in the description of a GoFundMe campaign that his wife and son “are both alive but have a lot of surgery ahead of them.”

The Hughes of Liverpool were married in August 2021 and traveled to Australia to visit Ron’s grown daughter and her family, The Guardian reported.

Jenkinson had worked as a chief pilot at Sea World Helicopters since 2019, and friends praised his mentorship and the assistance he provided during catastrophic floods in New South Wales last year. The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that he welcomed a son with his partner in September.

Ritchie Gregg, a close friend of Jenkinson, described him to BBC News as a “gentle giant” and a “silent hero.”

“He was always out there helping the community – from the bushfires a few years ago to the flood waters last year,” Gregg said.

“If it wasn’t for him, a lot of people wouldn’t have gotten the help they got,” the friend added.

Jenkinson’s Airbus helicopter had been in the air for less than 20 seconds when it collided with the second Sea World chopper attempting to land.

Jenkinson’s helicopter was in the air for less than 20 seconds when it collided with the second Sea World helicopter attempting to land.
AP
Five of the six people from the second helicopter suffered injuries from shattered glass.
Five of the six people from the second helicopter suffered injuries from shattered glass.
AP

Mitchell said the main rotor blade of Jenkinson’s aircraft made contact with the front cockpit of the descending helicopter.

“That in itself has led to the main rotor and the gearbox separating from that helicopter, which has meant that, tragically, it then had no lift and has fallen heavily to the ground,” he said.

The passengers from the helicopter that landed safely included two couples in their 40s from New Zealand and a 27-year-old woman from Western Australia. Three of the five passengers remained hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after being showered in glass.

Investigators will work to determine what happened in the cockpits of the helicopters at the time of the collision.
Investigators will work to determine what happened in the cockpits of the helicopters at the time of the collision.
JONO SEARLE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Investigators have remained at the scene of the crash site, but a rising sea tide was adding to the difficulty of collecting evidence there.

Mitchell said investigators wanted to determine what was happening in the “cockpit at the time” of the collision.

Village Roadshow Theme Parks, which owns Sea World Helicopters, said in a statement that it is working with authorities while “offering its deepest condolences to those affected” by the tragedy.

The wreckage of a helicopter is seen following a collision on the Gold Coast, Australia.

The wreckage of a helicopter is seen following a collision on the Gold Coast, Australia.


This helicopter had five tourists and one pilot on board when it crashed.

This helicopter had five tourists and one pilot on board when it crashed.


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Police divers find debris as they search the Broadwater on the Gold Coast.

Police divers find debris as they search the Broadwater on the Gold Coast.


Airport workers prepare to remove a crashed Airbus helicopter.


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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also offered his “deepest sympathies to those who are grieving.”

“Australia is shocked by the news of the terrible and tragic helicopter incident … on the Gold Coast,” he wrote on social media.

With Post wires

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