Sister of British helicopter victim denies ‘rubbish’ claims he caused his death by ignoring rules
The grieving sister of Greek helicopter victim Jack Fenton has furiously hit back at claims he recklessly defied security regulations and caused his own horrific death.
Greek authorities yesterday suggested the 22-year-old former public schoolboy rushed towards the spinning tail rotor of the helicopter in Athens to take a selfie and was killed instantly.
But his younger sister Daisy, 20, denied the reports as ‘rubbish’, saying her brother was ‘cautious and wary’, but had not been properly briefed by pilot Christos Fragkopanagos or ground crew, who were arrested then released yesterday.
It comes after his friend Jack Stanton-Gleaves, who was in the same helicopter which had flown from the party island of Mykonos, also hit back at the police version of events.
Daisy, a student at the University of Manchester, told MailOnline: ‘This was Jack’s first ever helicopter ride. So you can imagine how cautious and wary, if anything, he was.
‘All the rest, of him running back on the tarmac and violating protocols, is rubbish.
‘Why? Because there were no protocols. They were never told what to do and what not to.’
Jack, a former pupil at the £36,000-a-year Sutton Valence boarding school near his home in Kent, was travelling with a group of friends in two private Bell 407 helicopters, where they were scheduled to take a chauffeur ride to the airport for a private jet back to London.
Daisy Fenton (right) the grieving sister of Greek helicopter victim Jack Fenton (left, pictured with his father) has furiously hit back at claims he recklessly defied security regulations and caused his own horrific death
Jack Fenton (circled) is pictured on holiday in Mykonos with his friends before the tragic accident. Also pictured is Max Savage (left), Jack Stanton-Gleaves (top), Max Stanton-Gleaves (middle left), Tom Aitkin (middle right) and Robin Stanton-Gleaves (right)
Greek authorities yesterday suggested the 22-year-old former public schoolboy rushed towards the spinning tail rotor of the helicopter (pictured) in Athens to take a selfie and was killed instantly
Pilot Christos Fragkopanagos has been named by local media as the pilot who has been asked to testify over yesterday’s tragedy
Daisy added: ‘No one knows exactly what led him back [towards the tail rotor]. Perhaps he forgot something. But the line that he went back to take a selfie is rubbish. It’s a lie.’
She also stuck up for the Oxford Brookes student’s character, saying: ‘Jack wasn’t some rich, obnoxious kid. He was invited on this holiday. It was his first helicopter ride ever.’
She said her parents, Miguel and Victoria and other family members were all in the UK and that the helicopter following Jack included the father of one of his friends, businessman and Bromley FC chairman Robin Stanton-Gleaves.
The group included six in total. The others returned to the UK late Tuesday.
She said there were no plans for the family to come to Greece.
‘We are just waiting for his remains to be shipped back. But we still do not know when that will be.’
Pilot Christos Fragkopanagos, head of training at Superior Air in Athens, was at the controls of the ill-fated helicopter.
Fragkopanagos, head of training at Superior Air in Athens, and ground technicians Salim Milat and Spyros Andriopoulos were arrested but later released by police after giving statements testifying that Jack was escorted inside the airport before he ran back outside.
The trio could face negligence or manslaughter charges if they told the passengers to disembark when it was not safe.
But Jack Stanton-Gleaves, 20, who was in the helicopter along with friends James Yeabsley, 19, and former Bournemouth University student Max Savage, 20, rubbished the authorities’ version of events.
Jack told MailOnline: ‘No instructions were given when exiting the helicopter and no one escorted us to the lounge. All they did was open the doors for us.
‘We disembarked on our own and no one stopped Jack from going to the rear of the helicopter. None of us reached the lounge before the accident happened.
‘I’ve heard people say Jack was on his phone and ran back to the helicopter and this is totally untrue. He was not on his phone and why he turned towards the rear of the helicopter I don’t know.’
Jack’s mother Victoria, speaking from her home in Tonbridge, Kent, told MailOnline how the family are ‘completely devastated’ by the loss of their ‘wonderful boy’.
Emergency services are pictured on Monday night at the scene of the incident involving the Briton who died when a rear helicopter rotor hit him in Spata, near Athens, Greece
Pictured: The Bell 407 which was involved in the accident, with red police tape wrapped around the tail
The tourists had flown from Mykonos to the helipad in Spata and were due to take a private limousine to Eleftherios Venizelos airport
Ioannis Kandyllis, president of Greece’s committee for aviation accidents probing the incident, said yesterday that Jack defied orders by running back towards the helicopter with his phone to his ear.
He claimed: ‘All four passengers had disembarked and were escorted to a private lounge awaiting a private flight for London.
‘But as they were in the lounge the victim broke away and returned to the tarmac rushing to the helicopter at a fast pace.
‘Witnesses we spoke to said he was had a phone to his ear and was walking fast to the aircraft, defying ground crew shouting to him ‘Stop! Stop!’
‘Within seconds the tragic accident occurred. It was horrific.’
Emergency services were called to the private heliport on the outskirts of the Greek capital but the 22-year-old is thought to have been killed instantly.
Greek investigators will study the footage from a surveillance camera at the landing field for evidence.
They revealed there were several other people who witnessed the tragedy from the lounge.
‘They have yet to be interviewed but we will reach out to them to gather additional testimony as we piece this puzzle together’ an aviation official said.
His mother Victoria said yesterday: ‘We only found out what happened at 10pm last night. We are completely devastated. He was the most wonderful boy.
‘It was the most horrible of accidents by the looks of it.
‘Jack had travelled to Greece with some of his friends, a couple who were celebrating birthdays out there.
The Oxford Brookes university student, who went to the £36,000-a-year Sutton Valence boarding school in Maidstone, Kent, walked behind the Bell 407 helicopter while its engine was still engaged
The young Briton horrifically killed in a helicopter accident in Athens was on holiday with a group of friends
Fragkopanagos (pictured), head of training at Superior Air in Athens, and ground technicians Salim Milat and Spyros Andriopoulos were arrested but later released by police
‘His family have stayed in Kent. We didn’t go to Greece. A father of one of his friends was with them.
‘Jack and his friends had got a helicopter from Athens to Mykonos without any problems and so did the same again, they got a helicopter from Mykonos back to Athens.
‘He had got off safely when it landed in Athens but for some reason went back behind the helicopter and it was the rear propeller which killed him. It was instant.
‘He’d been out the night before but hadn’t had anything to drink all day yesterday except for water. He and his friends were all sober.’
A following helicopter carrying Jack’s friends and one of their fathers was advised to land at a separate airport so they could avoid the gruesome scene at the helipad.
Mr Kandyllis said the pilot and the two ground crew members at the private heliodrome in Paiania, northeast of Athens, testified before a prosecutor, providing detailed accounts to the committee investigating the causes of the unprecedented accident.
Mr Kandyllis said all safety regulations were followed in the landing of the Bell helicopter and disembarkation of its four passengers.
The man reportedly walked behind the Bell 407 helicopter while its engines were still engaged and was struck by the aircraft’s tail rotor
Emergency services were called to the private heliport on the outskirts of the Greek capital but the 22-year-old was killed instantly
Jack’s three friends – Yeabsley, Savage and Stanton Gleaves – returned to Britain in a private jet from Athens’ Spata airport (pictured: the scene yesterday)
He said: ‘Aviation regulations require disembarkation to take place either when the helicopter’s rotors have completely stopped, or when expert crew accompanies passengers off.’
‘In this case, both left and right doors were used by passengers to disembark. They were all escorted safely to the seating lounge.
‘It is after, when the tragedy occurred.’
The group had intended to disembark at the Superior Air helipad before being chauffeured to Eleftherios Venizelos airport where they would board a private jet for a return flight to the UK.
Jack’s three friends – Yeabsley, Savage and Stanton-Gleaves – returned to Britain in a private jet from Athens’ Spata airport yesterday.
A statement from Sutton Valence headmaster James Thomas said: ‘Our School was very sad to hear the tragic news about Jack this morning.
‘He was a very popular member of the community, and we have sent our condolences to the family.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the incident.’
Jack Fenton’s father, Miguel, is head of marketing, sales and PR at The Hop Farm, a 400-acre country park and visitor attraction in Beltring, near Tonbridge, Kent.
A spokesperson at the Hop Farm told MailOnline: ‘This is a personal matter, nothing to do with the business and we have no comment.’
Until 1997 the farm was known as The Whitbread Hop Farm and was owned by the brewery and boasts the largest collection of oast houses in the world..
Police sources did not reveal the family involved but it is understood they are extremely wealthy and were enjoying a holiday on the luxury Greek island of Mykonos (pictured)
The rotors tend to continue for around two minutes after the engine has been switched off, unless the pilot presses a button to stop them at around 50 seconds.
Pilots should thoroughly brief their passengers to stay inside until all movement has ceased, but the helicopter has no locks and no crew other than the pilot to shepherd the passengers.
The President of the Union of Police Officers of Southeast Attica George Kaliakmanis told MailOnline: ‘To my knowledge the type of helicopter Bell 407 doesn’t lock from the inside.
‘So now the investigation will focus on the safety measures taken from the pilot. Did he tell them to wait or not?
‘There are two propellers on the helicopter. One that operates on 500 turns/second and one that operates at 2500 turns/second. These propellers run for about 2 minutes from the time he turns the engine off unless he presses a button which stops them at 50 seconds. Also keep in mind that the propellers are not visible because of the speed.’
Sources said the 115-mile trip in two helicopters would have cost more than £15,000.