Australia: Helicopter crash survivors said ‘joy ride became nightmare’

Riaan Steenberg, Elmarie Steenberg, Marle Swart and Edward Swart (from left to right) said their holiday scenic ride ‘turned into a nightmare’ (Picture: Facebook)

The survivors of a horror helicopter ride in Australia which killed four say they feel ‘grateful and blessed’.

Two couples from New Zealand – Edward Swart, Marle Swart, Riaan Steenberg and Elmarie Steenberg – were on a scenic journey at Main Beach on the Gold Coast, near Sea World, when their aircraft collided with one taking off below on Monday.

The four survivors released a statement last night which read: ‘A fun five-minute joy ride on vacation to Australia turned into a nightmare.

‘We are grateful and blessed to have been spared but very sad for the people who lost loved ones and the little ones and mum fighting for their lives in hospital.

‘Our hearts are so heavy for them.

‘Our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the injured and the deceased and their families.

‘We will share more when we are ready; however as we are coming to grips with what has happened and the resultant impact on our lives we ask that our need for privacy be respected at this time.’

Edward and Marle Swart along with Riaan and Elmarie Steenberg

Elmarie and Riaan Steenberg were on holiday with friends when disaster struck (Picture: Facebook)

Edward and Marle Swart along with Riaan and Elmarie Steenberg

Edward and Marle Swart released a joint statement where they said they feel ‘grateful and blessed’ (Picture: Facebook)

11591331Three people are feared dead after two helicopters collided in mid-air near the Sea World theme park as horrified holidaymakers watched on. Debris showered down over the Broadwater on the Gold Coast before the crippled aircraft spiralled into a sandbank about 2pm local time on Monday. Emergency services rushed to the wreckage hoping to find survivors, but grave fears are held for all those on board - believed to be three in total. - 11591423 - 11591331

The wreckage of the helicopters near Sea World on the Gold Coast (Picture: News Media Network)

Sea World Helicopter crash - Gold Coast Australia Jan 2023

How the tragedy unfolded on Monday in Australia (Picture:

The couples, all from Auckland, thanked their heroic pilot Michael James. They all only suffered injuries from the glass smashing around them.

They added: ‘To our pilot, who, through all the chaos, landed the helicopter safely, keeping us and other bystanders safe. You are our hero.

‘Thank you so very much.’

They also expressed gratitude towards the emergency services who rushed to their aid, including hospital staff ‘for their kindness and compassion during this traumatic experience’.

They said the overwhelming response showed them ‘mateship in action’ and how ‘Australians come together to help in time of need’.

In the other aircraft four people were killed: pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40; Brits visiting from Cheshire Ron Hughes, 65, and his wife Diane, 57; and Sydney mum Vanessa Tadros, 36.

The survivors on that helicopter, Winnie de Silva, 33, her son Leon, 9, and Vanessa’s son Nicholas, 10, were taken to hospital seriously injured. Nicholas has since been put on life support.

The Air Transport Safety Bureau in Australia said it is continuing to investigate what happened.

‘We now have a painstaking job of trying to recreate exactly what’s occurred in the lead up to this,’ its chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said.

‘We know the take-off and the landing phases of any aircraft operations are critical phases of flight, where the the cognitive workload of pilots are at their greatest.

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