Pilot, 2 in 4 UK visitors killed in crash in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A pilot, two British visitors and a Sydney woman have been identified as the four people killed in a two-helicopter collision over the waterfront at an Australian tourist hotspot.

Authorities say it is fortunate that the death toll in the crash of two planes operated by Sea World Helicopters was not higher. The pilot of the second helicopter managed to land safely on a sandy outcrop despite the plane being damaged in the collision on Monday afternoon near Main Beach on Australia’s Gold Coast.

“Given the damage done to the left forward part of the helicopter, where the pilot was seated, this was a remarkable achievement,” said Australian Transport Safety Board chief commissioner Angus Mitchell, whose office investigating the accident.

“So while it was very tragic that four people lost their lives and many people were grieving this morning, we could have had a much worse situation here and the fact that a helicopter managed to land was been quite remarkable.”

The deceased pilot, Ashley Jenkinson, had worked as chief pilot at Sea World Helicopters since 2019, and friends have praised his mentorship and the help he provided during the catastrophic flooding in the New South Wales town of Ballina Last year. The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that he was 40 and became a father in September.

His helicopter had been in the air for less than 20 seconds when it collided with the second Sea World helicopter attempting to land.

Mitchell said the plane’s main rotor blade contacted the helicopter’s forward cockpit while descending.

“That in itself led to the separation of the main rotor and gearbox from this helicopter, which means that, tragically, it then had no lift and fell heavily to the ground,” he said. declared.

Investigators remain at the scene of the accident, but a rising tide was adding to the difficulty of collecting evidence at the scene.

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

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it was supporting the family of the deceased 57-year-old woman and 65-year-old British man who had visited the Australian state of Queensland on holiday.

The other passenger who died was a 36-year-old woman from the Sydney suburb of Glenmore Park.

Three passengers from the flight remain in hospital: a 10-year-old boy, also from Glenmore Park, in critical condition, a 33-year-old woman from Geelong in critical condition, and a 9-year-old boy from Victoria whose condition was stable.

Passengers on the helicopter which 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 remain hospitalized after being showered with glass.

Holidaymakers and people enjoying the water had rushed to help emergency service workers when the crash happened near Sea World Marine Park, during Australia’s peak summer holiday period .

Authorities praised members of the public who rushed to the aid of those in the helicopters.

“Our hearts go out to all those affected here, not only those on board the helicopter and their extended families, but also those who were on the Broadwater yesterday and witnessed the confrontational scenes of those helicopters going down, especially the people who were the first responders,” Mitchell said.

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

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also offered his “sincere condolences 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.


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