Family ‘heartbroken’ after British couple died in Gold Coast helicopter crash

The daughter of a Briton who died with his wife in a helicopter crash off Australia’s Gold Coast has said their family is “heartbroken”.

Ron, 65, and Diane Hughes, 57, from Neston, Cheshire, were reportedly visiting their daughter and her family in Australia when the tragedy occurred.

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

“We ask that you respect our privacy during this devastating time.”

A sandy island with a crashed helicopter, victims and emergency services on the Gold Coast, Australia, Monday, January 2, 2023.

Two helicopters collided in an Australian tourist hotspot on Monday afternoon (CH9/AP)

The British couple were killed along with the pilot and another passenger – a 36-year-old woman from Glenmore Park, New South Wales – when their helicopter collided with another helicopter around 2pm local time – 4am GMT – on Main Beach on Monday.

Three other passengers, including two children, who were seriously injured, remain in hospital.

According to the BBC, the helicopter pilot who died in the crash was from Birmingham but lived in the Gold Coast area.

A friend of 40-year-old Ashley Jenkinson told the broadcaster that the pilot was a “silent hero and a gentle giant” who “would do anything to bring the helicopter down safely”.

Ritchie Gregg added, “He was a top guy with a lot of experience. He has flown in all types of terrain and environments, we are completely shocked.”

Ms Hughes’ brother, Dave Boyce, previously posted on Facebook: “For those who don’t know my sister and her husband were involved in the Gold Coast helicopter crash yesterday.

“We would also like to thank everyone for the love and support we have received. We are truly humble at this heartbreaking time.”

Police said a “preliminary investigation” indicated the collision occurred as one helicopter was taking off and the other was landing.

Helicopter crash in Australia, names of victims

Crashed Helicopter on Main Beach on the Gold Coast (CH9/AP)

One of the helicopters was able to land safely aground, and five of the six occupants suffered only minor injuries.

However, the second helicopter crashed, killing four inside and three others seriously injured.

A 10-year-old boy from Glenmore Park was seriously injured in the accident, while a 33-year-old woman and a nine-year-old boy, both traveling from Geelong West, Victoria, were seriously injured.

The forensics team is investigating the incident with the help of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

A spokesman for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Ministry said: “We are supporting the family of two UK nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his thoughts were with those affected by the incident.

“Australia is shocked by the news of the terrible and tragic helicopter incident off the Gold Coast,” he tweeted.

“My thoughts are with everyone affected, including first responders, and my deepest sympathies are with those who are bereaved.”

Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted that it was an “unthinkable tragedy”.

She said: “My deepest sympathies to each of the families and everyone affected by this terrible accident.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *