Video shows passenger warning helicopter pilot before fatal crash

Chilling video has emerged from inside the cockpit of one of two helicopters involved in a fatal mid-air collision in Australia – as a passenger pats the pilot in the arm to warn him of impending doom.

Footage obtained by 7 News shows the tourist in the back seat of the descending helicopter trying to alert pilot Michael James while pointing forward.

James turns to the passenger, who then braces for impact with the other helicopter on Monday afternoon near Main Beach on Australia’s Gold Coast.

In addition to the pilot, the helicopter was carrying Riaan and Elmarie Steenberg, as well as Marle and Edward Swart, all from Auckland, New Zealand, and another unnamed passenger, the outlet reported.

Miraculously, they all survived with minor injuries after the windshield shattered, sending shards of glass through the cabin.

However, four people on the other plane were killed after hitting a sandbar – pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40, British couple Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, and Vanessa Tadros, a 36-year-old mother from Sydney.

Passenger seen trying to warn a helicopter pilot about another helicopter
Video obtained by 7 News shows a passenger alerting a helicopter pilot to impending doom seconds before he collided with another helicopter.
7 NEWS
Wreckage of two helicopters
Investigators will work to determine what happened in the cockpits of the helicopters at the time of the collision.
PA

“Yes we were in the helicopter crash, I’m still in Gold Coast Hospital recovering from my injuries,” Elmarie, a real estate agent, wrote on Facebook. “All I can say, thank God for sparing us all.”

The couple’s son, Enrico, thanked James for successfully landing the helicopter after the collision.

“Thank you to the pilot for saving my parents from the accident and all my prayers to the family who lost their loved ones,” he wrote on Instagram.

Australian Transport Safety Board chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said the other helicopter took off and was in the air less than 20 seconds before the crash.

“After the collision, it was a matter of seconds before he hit the ground, so it happened very quickly,” he told reporters, 7 News reported.

Broken glass flies through the cabin
The occupants of the helicopter seen in the video were injured by flying glass.
7 NEWS
Wreckage of two helicopters
The wreckage of two helicopters is seen after the collision on the Gold Coast, Australia.
PA

Mitchell said the main rotor blade of the helicopter taking off apparently hit the cockpit of the other helicopter as it descended.

“We have not yet determined exactly whether this was the very first point of impact,” he reportedly said. “But that in itself led to the separation of the main rotor from the main helicopter gearbox, which then had no lift and fell heavily to the ground.”

James managed to keep his helicopter upright after the stricken craft landed.

“We could have had a much worse situation here,” Mitchell said. “The fact that only one helicopter was able to land is remarkable.”

The two helicopters, operated by Sea World Helicopters, were carrying a total of 13 people, including the pilots.

Three other passengers in the crashed helicopter were seriously injured.

Tadros’ 10-year-old son Nicholas remained hospitalized in critical condition.

Chopper victims Diane Hughes, 57, and husband Ron Hughes, 65
Diane Hughes, 57, and her husband Ron Hughes, 65, from the UK, pictured on their wedding day in 2021, were among the dead.
Family document

Her husband, Simon, asked for prayers for their boy, who has undergone several operations.

“I ask that if everyone can say a prayer for Nicky, that he may wake up and recover properly,” he wrote on social media, the Daily Mail reported.

“He is in an induced coma on a life support machine to help him breathe (sic). He is in very serious and critical condition. I ask for all of your prayers to bring my little man back to me. Simon added.

Winnie de Silva, 33, from Geelong, and her 9-year-old son Leon are also in hospital.

De Silva, who is from Kenya, said just 20 seconds after takeoff she heard a “loud noise” and felt shiver as the main rotor blades ripped through the cockpit of the second helicopter.

Riaan and Elmarie Steenberg, who survived the crash
Riaan and Elmarie Steenberg survived the accident.
riaan.e.steenberg/Facebook

“I saw the pilot pressing all these buttons, stressed, he didn’t know what to do. I don’t remember much [after that] but everyone was shaking and worried,’ she told the Herald Sun.

As the Eurocopter EC130 came crashing down, she said she grabbed Leon’s hand and squeezed it tightly.

“The only thing I could see was death in my eyes. I didn’t want to see death in my eyes, so I closed them and held my son’s hand next to me,” De Silva told the newspaper.

The woman suffered from broken legs, severe left knee injuries, a badly broken right shoulder and a broken collarbone.

First responders at the scene of the accident
A helicopter had been in the air for less than 20 seconds when it collided with a Sea World helicopter attempting to land.
PA

Her son suffered a fractured skull, head trauma and facial injuries and is in an induced coma at Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane.

The accident remains under investigation.

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