British newlyweds die in helicopter crash on holiday in Australia

British newlyweds die in helicopter crash on holiday in Australia

January 3, 2023

British married couple, 57 and 65, and pilot from Birmingham, 40, who recently became a father are named as victims of horrifying helicopter crash when two choppers collided on Australia’s Gold Coast in front of hundreds of tourists

  • Ron and Diane Hughes were on holiday when the helicopter they were in crashed
  • The couple were fatally injured with pilot Ash Jenkinson on Monday morning
  • A fourth passenger, Vanessa Tadros, 36, was also killed in the Gold Coast crash
  • Three other people, including Mrs Tadros’s 10-year-old son, were also injured 

A newlywed British couple have died in a horrifying helicopter crash along with their Birmingham-born pilot near Sea World on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Ron and Diane Hughes, aged 65 and 57 respectively, were two of four people who tragically lost their lives when two helicopters collided mid-air in front of hundreds of horrified tourists on Monday afternoon.

Pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40, who grew up in the West Midlands before moving to Australia and had recently become a father, has been named as the third British victim.

The tragedy has also claimed the life of Australian mother Vanessa Tadros, 36, who was also fatally injured when the aircraft plunged more than 300 metres to the ground after the collision.

Ron and Diane Hughes, pictured here on their wedding day, were two of four people killed in the helicopter crash

Australian mother Vanessa Tadros, pictured here, was the fourth person confirmed to have died in the incident

Birmingham-born Ash Jenkinson, pictured here with his family, was described by heartbroken friends as a ‘top gun’

Workers lift one of the damaged helicopters out of the water after the crash on Australia’s Gold Coast on Monday

A worker attaches a winch to the rotor blades of one of the helicopters on Tuesday morning

Members of the air ambulance air lifted a child to hospital following the crash on Monday afternoon

Mr and Mrs Hughes, who hail from Merseyside, tied the knot in August 2021 and had been on holiday in Australia at the time of the crash.

They are believed to be related to Mrs Tadros, who had boarded the aircraft with her son Nicholas. 

The 10-year-old was pulled from the wreckage and rushed to hospital with serious injuries, where family members, including his father who saw the crash happen from the ground, remain by his bedside.

Two other people on board – a nine-year-old boy and 33-year-old woman – were also hospitalised after the helicopter landed upside down on a sandbank.

Of the six occupants in the other helicopter, five suffered minor injuries while one left the scene unscathed. 

Initial investigations indicate the crash occurred around 2pm (4am GMT) when one helicopter was landing and another was taking off.

The pilot of the other helicopter was able to perform a controlled landing, despite the injuries to those onboard after the cockpit was smashed in by the collision.

Government investigators are now scouring through footage and the wreckage of the aircraft to determine how the pilots failed to see each other before the crash.

The incident took place on Monday afternoon at near Sea World, although the helicopters are operated by a separate company to the resort.

Mr Jenkinson was behind the controls of a helicopter that had picked up tourists for a pleasure ride over the picturesque coastal region.

The 40-year-old had welcomed a son, Kayden, in September 2021, with his wife, Kosha.

One of his friends paid tribute to the pilot, calling him a ‘top guy, top gun and best dad’.

Ritchie Gregg said: ‘I heard [about the crash] at ten past two. So I sent the message and was waiting for an answer.

‘When he and Kosha had their son (in September 2021) he was the most excited dad. (Kosha) is very silent, she’s in shock Kayden… would probably be asking where dad is.

He added that ‘family was his biggest thing’ and he had just got married to Kosha in October. 

Mr Gregg said: ‘Ash had the biggest heart and was the happiest guy. When he’d finished work flying he’d be straight home to see his boy.’

The names of passengers killed in the crash have not yet been released by police, but acting inspector Mike Campbell told reporters the British tourists are ‘we believe husband and wife with a next-of-kin local’.

The incident happened on Australia’s Gold Coast, close to the city of Brisbane, in Queensland

Wreckage of two helicopters that crashed near Sea World on Australia’s Gold Coast on Monday

Mr Jenkinson, pictured here with his wife Kosha, was the pilot of one of the helicopters and died after it crashed 

How ‘Top Gun’ helicopter pilot had just become a father before he was killed in horror crash – as friend reveals his haunting final text and the mangled wreck of chopper is lifted from sandbank 

 

 

Video footage from the moments before the crash shows the two helicopters converging on each other, with horrified witnesses shouting ‘no!’ upon realising they will collide.

One family described seeing ‘the pilot and two elderly people in the front, a lady and a little boy next to her in the back, and another person next to them’ get on board the aircraft before the crash.

One eyewitness described seeing people desperately trying to save the life of a young boy after he was left unable to breath following the crash. 

Travis Slatter, a Gold Coast resident, said he saw a ‘lady that put a tube in the boy’s throat to get him to breathe’, which sparked a response from the child.

‘It was a relief that there was some sign of life, I hope he pulls through, but he has a lot to deal with after what happened,’ he said.

Mr Slatter added that the second pilot ‘saved a lot of lives today’, writing on Facebook: ‘To see him first hand and how cut up he was and for a second he it looked like he was going to drop out of the sky too, but managed to put it down is crazy.’

Gary Worrell, acting inspector at Queensland State Police, said: ‘Members of the public and police tried to remove the people and they commenced first aid and tried to get those people to safety from an airframe that was upside down.

‘Jet Skis, family boaters, ordinary members of the public rushed to assist these people.’

Mr Jenkinson, pictured, died after the collision between the aircraft caused the helicopter to plunge into the sandbank 

A police officer looks at the damaged cockpit of one of the helicopters following the fatal mid-air crash

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is now investigating the cause of the crash to determine whether a communication error, system malfunction or something else led to the collision.

Chilling moment loved ones wave off Sea World joy flight before four are killed and three left fighting for life when helicopters collide next to amusement park in holiday tragedy 

The Foreign Office has said that two of those who have lost their lives are British nationals and it is supporting their families.

An FCDO spokesperson said: ‘We are supporting the family of two British nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities.’

Sea World Helicopters said: ‘We and the entire flying community are devastated by what has happened and our sincere condolences go to all those involved and especially the loved ones and family of the deceased.’

Village Roadshow Theme Parks, which operates Sea World, said it offered its ‘deepest condolences to all those impacted’ by the tragedy.

‘While Sea World Helicopters is an independent professional operator, VRTP is working with emergency services and the authorities to provide every possible assistance,’ it said.

‘We are providing support to our team members who have been emotionally affected by the tragedy.

‘As it is now a police investigation, we cannot provide any further information at this stage.’

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese tweeted that country had been shocked by the ‘news of the terrible and tragic’ incident.

He wrote: ‘My thoughts are with all those affected, including first responders, and my deepest sympathies are with those who are grieving.’

Investigators stand by the wreckage of one of the helicopters after the fatal mid-air crash on Australia’s Gold Coast 

Lifeguards and police arrive at the scene of the crash by boat on Monday afternoon 

Parts of Sea World are cordoned off to stop theme park visitors from looking at helicopter crash scene as traumatised witnesses reveal what happened before tragedy that’s left four dead 

 

An investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will try to determine the cause of the fatal incident.

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, Angus Mitchell, Chief Commissioner of the bureau, said the rotor blade from Mr Jenkinson’s helicopter hit the cockpit of the second aircraft.

This led to the ‘main rotor and the gearbox separating from that (ascending) helicopter which has meant tragically that it then had no lift and has fallen tragically to the ground,’ he said

‘The second helicopter coming into land has remarkably managed to land upright considering the damage that was done to the front left-hand section of that helicopter… the fact that helicopter has managed to land has been quite remarkable.’

He said the accident happened just a couple of hundred metres from the landing pad at Seaworld and 200 to 300 metres in the air.

 

 ‘Transport safety investigators with experience in helicopter operations, maintenance and survivability engineering are deploying from the ATSB’s Brisbane and Canberra offices and are expected to begin arriving at the accident site from Monday afternoon. 

‘During the evidence gathering phase of the investigation, ATSB investigators will examine the wreckage and map the accident site.’ 

‘Investigators will also recover any relevant components for further examination at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra, gather any available recorded data for analysis, and interview witnesses and other involved parties.’

Sea World Helicopters had been operating at the site for about three decades and conditions appeared ideal  on the day of the crash with clear skies.

In 1991 seven people were killed when a helicopter from the company plunged into nearby South Stradbroke Island and burst into flames.

An investigation by the Bureau of Air Safety later found that the pilot, Glen Wells, 27, had collapsed at the controls, causing the crash.

Since then the fleet has been upgraded, with all helicopters fitted with Spidertracks GPS locating systems, which are designed to alert pilots to other aircraft in the vicinity.

In an interview for the company in 2021, Mr Jenkinson described the system as ‘easy’ to use and called it ‘very reliable and accurate’.  




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