Haunting last text sent to Birmingham pilot killed in helicopter crash

Ash Jenkinson, 40, was originally from Birmingham but lived in Australia and had recently got married (Picture: Facebook)

A friend has revealed the upsetting last message he sent to a pilot among those killed in a helicopter crash in Australia.

Four people died, including two British nationals, and three others including children were critically injured following the collision of two helicopters on the Gold Coast.

Ash Jenkinson, a chief pilot for Sea World Helicopters, was one of those killed at Main Beach, near the popular tourist hotspot.

The 40-year-old was originally from Birmingham but lived in Australia and had recently married his wife, Kosha. They also have a 17-month-old son, Kayden.

His close friend Richie Gregg said he sent a message to Ash when he heard about the crash which read: ‘Hope that wasn’t you?’

‘I heard at ten past two,’ he told BirminghamLive, ‘So I sent the message and was waiting for an answer.

‘When he and Kosha had their son he was the most excited dad.

‘[Kosha] is very silent, she’s in shock. Kayden… would probably be asking where dad is.’

Sea World Pilot Ash Jenkinson Wife Debbie Jenkinson I am so sad and am very sorry to be the bearer of terrible news. The helicopter pilot, Ash ?Jenko? Jenkinson, who brought emergency supplies from the skies in a Sea World helicopter to Ballina Shire flood survivors in February 2022 died today in a helicopter crash. If you heard my call and brought supplies to Kingsford Smith Park to be choppered out to flood survivors- Ash flew them there. If you received bags of food and loo paper and nappies via helicopter from Ballina, Ash brought them to you. He was a kind, generous man. If it wasn?t for Ash, those flights would never have happened. His friends who were also involved in that civilian flood response have asked me to share this sad news with you. I thought he was invincible. He was humble and had a big heart. I can?t believe he is gone. Vale Ash. ??

Ash Jenkinson was a chief pilot for Sea World Helicopters and lived in Australia (Picture: Facebook)

11592931 SeaWorld pilot had just had a baby son as devastated friend speaks out about the moment he realised his friend was dead - Ash Jenkinson

He married wife Kosha in September, a friend said (Picture: Facebook)

He said the couple got married in October and 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,’ Richie added.

He told the BBC Ash was a ‘silent hero and gentle giant’ who ‘would have done everything to bring the helicopter down safely’.

‘He was a top guy with so much experience,’ he added. ‘He’s flown in all sorts of terrain and environments, we’re completely shocked.’

Another close friend, Andy Taylor, told Sunrise on Tuesday: ‘I saw it come up on a post on social media. I tried to ring Ash straight away.

Gold Coast Crash Pilot Ash Jenkinson

He was described as a ‘top guy’ and friends are in shock (Picture: Facebook)

Sea World Pilot Ash Jenkinson Wife Debbie Jenkinson

Friends said he had ‘the biggest heart and was the happiest guy’ (Picture: Facebook)

‘At first, the phone was dead and then went to the voicemail.

‘He did a lot of charity work, we did the floods down in Ballina and saved a lot of people. He is the best of the best. I don’t know what else to say.’

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help his family.

The British couple killed were Ron Hughes, 65, and his wife Diane, 57, from Neston in Cheshire. They were reportedly visiting his daughter and her family in Australia at the time.

In a statement to the media Ron’s daughter, Jane Manns, said: ‘Our family is heartbroken and we are still trying to contact friends and family to let them know.

‘Please respect our privacy at this devastating time.’

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: ‘We are supporting the family of two British nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities.’

Investigations are ongoing but it is thought one helicopter was taking off and the other landing when they hit one another.

Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, tweeted: ‘Australia is shocked by the news of the terrible and tragic helicopter incident today on the Gold Coast.

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

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.


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