Sea World crash survivors break their silence about what happened

Sea World helicopter crash survivors break their silence about what happened seconds before the choppers collided: ‘Turned into a nightmare’

  • Two NZ couples are among the survivors of the Sea World helicopter collision 
  • The tourists, from Auckland, were on the aircraft that managed to land safely  
  • Elmarie and Riaan Steenberg and Edward and Marle Swart thanked ‘hero’ pilot 
  • The couples recalled how the’ 5-minute joy ride’ descended into a nightmare  

Two New Zealand couples who survived the horror Sea World helicopter crash have broken their silence – as they recall how a fun joyride quickly descended into a nightmare. 

Elmarie and Riaan Steenberg and Edward and Marle Swart, from Auckland, were holidaying in Queensland when they decided to enjoy a helicopter tour in the Gold Coast on Monday. 

But the leisure activity turned into a tragedy when their aircraft collided with another chopper mid-air, killing four people and leaving three people with critical injuries. 

The couples’ pilot managed to safely land their damaged helicopter on a sand bank, saving the lives of all five passengers on board.  

In a joint statement, the Steenbergs and Swarts said they are ‘completely devastated’ by the horrific helicopter accident and their hearts go out to the victims’ loved ones. 

Riaan (far left) and Elmarie Steenberg (left) and Marle (right) and Edward Swart (far right) were caught up in the Sea World helicopter tragedy on Monday 

Police and Fire and Rescue personnel inspect a Sea World helicopter after it collided with another chopper on Monday

‘A fun 5-minute joy ride on vacation to Australia turned into a nightmare,’ they said.

‘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.’

The couples expressed their gratitude to bystanders, police, and emergency services personnel who rushed to their aid and kept them calm and comfortable in the aftermath of the crash. 

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

The tourists also extended their thanks to the hospital staff taking care of them ‘for their kindness and compassion during this traumatic experience’.

The last part of the statement was dedicated to their heroic pilot Michael James who guided their damaged aircraft to shore safely despite the bedlam. 

‘To our pilot, who, through all the chaos, landed the helicopter safely, keeping us and other bystanders safe. You are our hero,’ the Steenbergs and Swarts said. 

Elmarie Steenberg (pictured with husband) Riaan remains in the Gold Coast recovering from injuries sustained in the crash 

The couple were on a trip of a lifetime Down Under with friends and fellow Aucklanders Edward and Marle Swart (pictured) 

‘Thank you so very much.’

Pilot and new father Ash Jenkinson, 40, British newlyweds Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, and Sydney mother Vanessa Tadros, 36, were killed when their helicopter plunged to the ground shortly after takeoff. 

The three sole survivors on that chopper – Winnie de Silva, 33, her son Leon, 9, and Ms Tadros’ son Nicholas, 10 – were rushed to hospital with critical injuries.

Ms de Silva has since stabilised and Leon is in an induced coma with a fractured skull, while Nicholas has been put on life support in a critical condition. 

Four of the survivors on the other aircraft suffered injuries from glass shrapnel as the lower helicopter’s rotor blades sliced through the cockpit. 

In a post on Wednesday, Mrs Steenberg confirmed to friends that she was caught up in the helicopter crash and provided an update on her condition. 

How the tragedy unfolded in just 20 seconds

The two helicopters involved in the collision can be seen on the sandbank – with one crashing into the sand and the other safely crash landing upright

‘I am still in hospital in the Gold Coast recovering from my injuries,’ she wrote on Facebook.

‘All I can say [is] thank you to God for sparing all of us. 

‘Thank you for all of your messages. I will reply in due course.. love you all’. 

The new details come after a video emerged of the moments right before the helicopters collided. 

Taken from inside the helicopter that landed safety, the footage shows one of the passengers tapping the pilot on the shoulder to warn about the impending danger. 

The Air Transport Safety Bureau has now launched its investigation into the crash and vowed to look at all possible causes of the accident.

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

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

They Steenbergs and Swarts said they were assisting the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Queensland police with their inquiries.

Source: Read Full Article