And the images in this story are distressing.
The moment of impact caught on camera. Even more terrifying, they saw it coming. As the pilot approaches Sea World, you can see the second helicopter taking off. A male passenger in the back seat spots it and points. He reaches forward, frantically trying to warn the pilot, but it’s too late. All he can do is brace. The impact, smashing the windscreen, ripping open the front of the helicopter, the pilot somehow managing to land safely. The collision, sending the other helicopter to the ground, killing four people on board. Three others remain in hospital. Four days after the tragedy, the four shaken New Zealand tourists who escaped with their lives still processing what happened. A day they’ll never forget. A fun five-minute joy ride on vacation to Australia turned into a nightmare. The Steenbergs and the Swarts releasing a statement today, expressing their gratitude to all who helped them, thanking their pilot, Michael James, their hero, for bringing their chopper down safely.
While they are grateful and blessed to have been spared, they say they are very sad for the people who lost loved ones and the little ones and mom fighting for their lives in hospital. Our hearts are heavy for them. Today, united by grief, the family of Ron and Diane Hughes, their children and grandchildren, gathered at the memorial, reading tributes left for the UK couple. Sea World helicopter director John Orr-Campbell’s released his first statement over the incident, offering condolences and support to the families and passengers. The director also revealed Ash Jenkinson, who was killed on Monday, was a first-class pilot with more than 6,000 flying hours to his name. He received his commercial license 15 years ago, an instructor for the past 12.
“To lose a man and a pilot of Ash’s caliber is shocking in every sense of the word. I, along with all the staff at Sea World Helicopters are gutted to the core,” he said, leaving the aviation community and the nation still in shock over how two simple joy flights turned deadly within seconds. This video to be examined thoroughly by air crash investigators. At least one aviation lawyer believes flight procedures and protocols at the operation could come into question.
Why were the two aircraft in that same position? Why did the company procedures allow that to occur?
He says the investigation could eventually pave the way for legal action by victims and their families.
Queensland law is very robust in that regard.
10-year-old Nicholas Tadros from Sydney remains on life support tonight, but in some positive news, 9-year-old Leon de Silva has showed signs of recovery today. No longer critical, he’s in a stable condition. Josh Bavas, Nine News.