Sea World helicopter crash survivors in gory, confrontational photos
Graphic photos show survivors of a doomed helicopter crash at Sea World, bloodied, holding hands in the cockpit just moments after the mid-air collision killed a pilot and three tourists.
Elmarie Steenberg and Marle Swart were visiting Queensland’s Gold Coast with their husbands from their home in Auckland on January 2 when the two Eurocopter EC130s collided over the theme park at around 2pm.
Four people died when the other helicopter crashed into a sandbar after its main rotor detached: Vanessa Tadros, 36, British newlywed Ron Hughes, 65, and wife Diane, 57, and chief pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40.
Three other passengers who were hospitalized in serious conditions were Vanessa’s son Nicholas Tadros, 10, and Leon de Silva, 9.
They were both on life support, along with Leon’s mother Winnie, 33, who suffered broken bones.
Pictures released by the Steenberg and Swart families showed the aftermath of the crash – as pilot Michael James managed to land on a sandbar at Southport Broadwater.
Pictured: Elmarie Steenberg and Marle Swart sit in a helicopter after it collided with another on January 2
Good Samaritans help the survivors from the helicopter on January 2nd
In one photo, Ms. Steenberg and Ms. Swart could hold hands in shock as they sat at the front of the broken-down plane.
Others showed Mrs. Steenberg sitting in the shallows, washing her blood-soaked legs with seawater, and a pair of thongs on the beach – dripping with blood.
Two other photos showed the women recovering in hospital before being discharged last week.
They plan to return to Auckland with their husbands, Riaan Steenberg and Edward Swart.
In a statement, the families said they had sent footage of inside the doomed helicopter to investigators at the Australian Transport Safety Bureau – and were “distraught” when it was broadcast on Channel 7.
“We don’t know how [Seven] received, but it was only made available to investigators as part of their investigations at the scene of the accident and afterwards,” they said.
Elmarie Steenberg washed the blood from her legs in the sea (left). A pair of blood-soaked thongs could be seen on the beach (right)
Elmarie Steenberg and Marle Swart recovering together in hospital after the crash (pictured)
“This was intentionally kept out of public view out of respect for all those affected by this tragic accident and is extremely traumatizing.”
The families also expressed their condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives and to those who are still hospitalized.
“Our hearts are deeply saddened by the loss. This has been traumatic for us as survivors and we cannot imagine the terrible sadness their families and loved ones must feel,” they said.
“We continue to pray for Nicholas, Leon and Winnie as they remain in hospital with serious injuries and mourn the loss of Ash Jenkinson.”
They described their pilot, Mr James, as a “hero” along with the good Samaritans who rushed to the rescue – including an off-duty paramedic.
The Steenberg and Swart families (pictured together at the hospital) sent their condolences to the families of the other victims
Mr James was discharged from hospital on Thursday afternoon, where he was questioned by police.
Nicholas remains on life support at Gold Coast University Hospital.
His father Mr Tadros – who lost his wife in the crash – told the Courier Mail his son would be on a ventilator for some time.
“I have amazing support by my side although you can only imagine the nightmare we are living through. I’m not in a good headspace at all,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leon woke up from his induced coma on Thursday and was able to give his mother a thumbs-up during a video chat, which was described as a miracle.
“He gave me a ‘thumbs up’ and one of his big, beautiful smiles,” she said in a statement penned from her bedside at Gold Coast University Hospital.
Sea World helicopter crash survivor Winnie de Silva and her son Leon. Ms De Silva revealed Leon’s first words from his coma were “my leg”.
Leon has spent the last three days in an induced coma at Queensland Children’s Hospital
“He said two words – ‘my leg’ – which gives me hope that he’s getting stronger every day.
“With more surgeries scheduled for me next week, I am fully focused on getting better so I can be with Leon and support his recovery over the next few weeks.
“I can’t wait to hug my beautiful brave boy!”
The De Silva family, including Winnie’s husband Neil, had decided to treat themselves to a helicopter ride while on holiday from Geelong West in Victoria.
Mr De Silva was not on board the helicopter with his wife and son when he watched it take off from the helipad before colliding with the rotor blades of a second helicopter landing.
Local authorities and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau did not speculate about the cause of the crash in the early stages of their investigation into the incident.
Chief Traffic Safety Inspector Angus Mitchell said the first evidence-gathering phase of the inquiry will last around six to eight weeks.
Elmarie Steenberg and Marle Swart were visiting Queensland’s Gold Coast on January 2 when the two Eurocopter EC130s collided over the theme park (crash pictured).
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11610997/Sea-World-helicopter-crash-survivors-bloody-confronting-photos.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Sea World helicopter crash survivors in gory, confrontational photos