Pilot Relives Horrible, Chaotic Scenes In Aftermath Of Sea World Helicopter Tragedy: ‘My Mate Was Upside Down In The Wreckage’
- Pilot illuminates horror scene after Sea World tragedy
- Paul Gibson said he saw his mate’s lifeless body upside down
- Four people were killed in the helicopter crash on the Gold Coast
A pilot who was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the SeaWorld helicopter crash has spoken for the first time about his mate’s lifeless body hanging upside down in the rubble.
A five-minute joyous flight turned into one of Queensland’s worst aviation incidents on January 2 when two helicopters collided near the Sea World theme park.
Sea World helicopter pilot Ash Jenkinson, British newlyweds Ron and Diane Hughes and Sydney’s mother Vanessa Tadros were killed in the mid-air crash, injuring a further nine passengers.
Within minutes, a large-scale emergency response was called with surf rescue helicopter pilot Paul Gibson as one of the first responders on the scene.
His friend and fellow pilot, Ash Jenkinson, died instantly in the horror crash, just hours after Mr. Gibson said g’day to his mate earlier.
Sea World helicopter rescue pilot Paul Gibson (pictured) has spoken for the first time about his mate’s lifeless body hanging upside down in the helicopter wreckage
A five-minute joyous flight turned into one of Queensland’s worst aviation incidents on January 2 when two helicopters collided near the Sea World theme park (photo: sand bar about 100 meters from Sea World)
“I was on duty all day, I’d talked to both boys – Michael and Ash,” Mr Gibson recalled The courier mail.
“I didn’t know right away (whether Mr. Jenkinson was on board), but when we landed and I examined both pieces of wreckage, I knew one of them was Ash…
“I saw his body upside down in the helicopter.”
The crash site was a sandbar about 100 yards from the park with a vision showing Queensland Fire and Emergency Services personnel with blood transfusions in hand, desperately trying to save the lives of those on board.
More than two dozen rescuers arrived on the scene within 10 minutes and rushed to the aid of the passengers, many trying to shield their bodies from onlookers and the hot sun.
Sea World helicopter pilot Ash Jenkinson (right), British newlyweds Ron and Diane Hughes and Sydney’s mother Vanessa Tadros were killed in the mid-air crash, injuring a further nine passengers in the impact
One of the survivors was helicopter pilot Michael James, who miraculously managed to land his plane and save everyone on board.
“When we first landed Michael, the pilot of the plane that landed upright… he kind of wandered around,” Mr. Gibson revealed.
“I just grabbed him, introduced myself and asked his name…
“He had a lot of debris from what I believe was his helicopter windshield embedded in his body…but to my eyes he had no life-threatening injuries.”
The pilot said that while the incident was “confrontational,” everyone went into “work mode,” and it was only upon reflection when reality set in.
The mid-air collision occurred just 20 seconds after the bottom plane lifted off when it was about 250 feet above the ground
The mid-air collision occurred just 20 seconds after the bottom plane lifted off when it was about 75 meters above the ground.
Witnesses said they saw a cloud of broken glass and debris explode as the two planes crashed into each other.
Queensland Police and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are investigating the crash, but a final verdict on the cause is not expected until 2024.