Named are a couple from Britain who died in a helicopter collision in mid-air at a theme park in Australia.
Diane Hughes (57) and Ron Hughes (65) were both from Liverpool, and they married in 2021.
Their family released a statement saying that they were heartbroken and still trying to reach out to friends and family.
At around 2:45 PM local time, the crash occurred on the Gold Coast, not far from Sea World in Queensland. Families would have filled the park with their summer vacations.
Initial investigations revealed that a helicopter taking off with seven people collided into another helicopter landing on the ground, which had six people.
The helicopter was carrying seven passengers and Mr. and Mrs Hughes were aboard. Both the pilot, aged 40, and a woman, 36, from New South Wales died in the crash.
A 10-year old boy was aboard the ship and is currently in critical condition. A 33-year-old female and a nine year-old boy were also onboard.
Despite significant damage to the cockpit, the helicopter that came into land “remarkably” landed upright.
Five of the six passengers on board suffered minor injuries. The sixth was not.
Angus Mitchell, chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said the incident was a “tragic beginning to the new year”.
He said that the main rotors from the helicopter’s takeoff collided with the landing aircraft at 200m, causing severe damage to the front section. The main rotor blade of the helicopter and the gearbox were both damaged in the collision.
Reporters were told by Mitchell that they are fortunate not to have more deaths.
The emergency services workers were unable to reach the scene of the crash because there was a sandbank.
Sea World Helicopters was a separate company from the park and expressed condolences. It said it was “devastated” by the accident and was willing to cooperate with authorities in their investigation.
The statement stated: “We, the whole flying community, are devastated by the events. Our sincere condolences to all those involved, especially to the loved ones and families of the deceased.”
John, a witness, described the event to Melbourne radio station 3AW. He said that John heard a “massive bang” and that staff from the park quickly closed off the area closest to the accident.
It was huge. It was either the propellers hitting each other or something else. The poor woman and her child were crying near the helipad.
Annastacia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier, said that the accident was “unthinkable tragedy”.
She stated, “My deepest sympathies are for each of the families affected by this terrible accident.”
Mitchell stated that officials would continue to collect all intelligence possible, including footage from cameras taken by members the public and CCTV from nearby structures.
He stated that “What we now need to understand is what was happening inside their two cockpits at that time.” We know that takeoff and landing are crucial phases in any flight, where pilots have the greatest cognitive workload.