British couple die in helicopter crash on holiday
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A British couple are among the four people who died in a helicopter crash which took place in Queensland, Australia shortly after New Year.
Ron and Diane Hughes, from Liverpool, tied the knot in August 2021 and had been married for just over a year when they travelled to the Gold Coast to visit Ron’s daughter and her family.
On Monday (2 January) they boarded the helicopter with 40-year-old pilot Ashley Jenkinson and a 36-year-old woman from the neighbouring state of New South Wales.
The crash took place at approximately 2pm local time, when the helicopter collided mid-air with another helicopter in the area. The second aircraft was able to land safely on the sandbank in Main Beach following the incident, but the Hughes' helicopter crashed to the ground.
The couple, Jenkinson and the 36-year-old woman all died, while three other passengers, two children aged nine and 10 and their mother, were left critically injured.
The children and their mother were taken to hospital and are said to be in critical but stable condition after the crash. Six other people are being treated for more minor injuries.
In a statement addressing the crash, 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.”
'Initial investigations' conducted by police indicate the collision took place as one helicopter was taking off while the other was coming in to land.
Investigators working on the case believe the main rotor blade of the helicopter which was taking off collided with the front cockpit of the landing helicopter.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Angus Mitchell commented: "Whilst it has been very tragic that four people have lost their lives and many families are mourning this morning.
"We could have had a far worse situation here and the fact that one helicopter managed to land is quite remarkable."
"The helicopter taking off was in the air for less than 20 seconds and after the collision, it was a matter of seconds before it hit the ground," Mitchell continued.
"So it has unfolded very quickly. But from the footage that we’ve seen and from the damage that we can witness on there, we do know that the second helicopter has landed on the sandbar. That has obviously led to a stage where we aren’t seeing more fatalities here than what we could have."
Mitchell has explained the 'evidence collection phase' of the ATSB’s investigation would take about six to eight weeks, with a final report set to be published once the investigation is concluded.
Tributes have been shared online for Ron and Diane following the news of their death, with Diane's brother sharing a message on Facebook to thank those showing their 'love and support'.