Passengers have applauded the hero helicopter pilot who incredibly managed to land his crippled chopper safely as chilling video of the tragic Sea World crash emerged.
But for those who have lost loved ones in the tragedy that left four dead and three others seriously injured, their grief has turned to anger.
Neil de Silva, whose wife Winnie and stepson Leon are fighting for life in hospital, said: ‘There is no need to do that – the two helicopters fly by about 400 meters apart.’
To me, I think, ‘Why on earth would you put them in each other’s way?’ that’s not necessary.’
Neil de Silva (pictured) is seeking answers after the horrific helicopter crash that left his wife injured
Shocking video footage shows the moment a passenger tried to warn pilot Michael James, 52, about another helicopter about to collide with his plane.
He can be seen pointing wildly out the window and patting the pilot’s shoulder emphatically before clutching the seat tightly in front of him as he prepares for impact.
Moments later the helicopter cabin explodes in a shower of shattered glass and metal as the rotor blades of another helicopter slice through the cockpit.
The pilot and passengers are blown away by pieces of the deadly wreckage but surprisingly Mr. James manages to keep control of the badly damaged plane and land nearby.
One of the passengers can be seen pointing out the window before the collision.
He then taps the pilot on the shoulder to draw attention to the impending danger.
The passenger then grips the pilot’s seat tightly to brace for impact.
Moments later the helicopter cabin explodes in a shower of shattered glass and metal as the rotor blades of another helicopter cut through the cockpit.
Now his grateful passengers say they owe their lives to his cool head and quick response to the unimaginable horror they faced in the cockpit destroyed on impact.
The two couples from Auckland, New Zealand, were on board the Pleasure Flight with another tourist from Western Australia when the accident occurred at Sea World in Queensland’s Gold Coast around 2pm on Monday.
Two couples who were traveling together — Ryan and Elmarie Steinberg and Markle and Edward Swart — paid tribute to the pilot in a joint statement on Thursday.
‘To our pilot who, through all the chaos, landed the helicopter safely, keeping us and others safe. You are our hero. Thank you very much,’ he said.
Two New Zealand couples who were traveling together on the plane – Ryan and Elmarie Steinberg and Marley and Edward Swart – applauded the Hero pilot
‘Our deepest sympathies and deepest sympathies to the injured and the deceased and their families.
‘We are grateful and blessed to have been spared but deeply saddened for those who lost their loved ones and little ones and the mother fighting for her life in the hospital.
‘Our hearts are very heavy for them.’
Four people aboard the second helicopter died in the crash when the rotor unit and gearbox separated from their aircraft, causing it to fall upside down into the sandbar below.
British couple Ron, 65, and Diane Hughes, 57, were killed when a Sea World EC130 helicopter collided with another chopper in mid-air and plunged 30 meters near the Sea World theme park at 2pm on Monday.
Sea World Helicopters chief pilot Ash ‘Jenko’ Jenkinson, 40, died in a helicopter crash (pictured with his wife Kosha)
Sydney’s mother Vanessa Tadros (36) died, while her 10-year-old son Nicolas had a narrow escape in a helicopter crash on Monday.
Vanessa Tadros, 36, died along with British newlywed Ron Hughes, 65, and wife Diane, 57, and chief pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40.
Vanessa’s sons Nicolas Tadros, 10, and Leon de Silva, 9, both remain in hospital clutching for life.
Leon is in an induced coma with a fractured skull at Gold Coast Hospital while Nicholas is in a critical condition on life support at Queensland Children’s Hospital.
Nicolas’ mother Leon’s mother Winnie, 33, was also taken to hospital with multiple broken bones.
Ms de Silva, who was in the lower helicopter, said from her hospital bed on Wednesday she heard a “loud bang” and felt a “shudder” when the two helicopters collided.
Survivors of the SeaWorld helicopter crash. Geelong residents Winnie De Silva (mother) and Leon De Silva (son)
Vinnie de Silva (left) has two broken legs, a broken right shoulder, a broken collarbone and a damaged left knee after the SeaWorld helicopter crash. Leon (right) has a skull fracture and is in a coma
‘I could see the pilot pushing all these buttons, tense – he didn’t know what to do. i don’t remember much [after that] But everyone was trembling and worried,’ Ms de Silva told herald sun,
As the Eurocopter EC130 began to tilt toward the ground, she squeezed her son’s hand as hard as she could in fear.
‘The only thing I could see was death in my eyes. I did not want to see death in my eyes, so I closed my eyes and kept my son’s hand with me.
She remembers opening her eyes while being trapped in the rubble.
‘My leg and right arm were trapped. I remember screaming and shouting for help… I couldn’t get out,’ Ms De Silva said.
The helicopter that took off is believed to have collided with another helicopter above and then crashed into the sand
Mr De Silva has re-lived the moments before the accident and the horror that followed.
‘It was almost like it wasn’t real,’ he told Nine’s A Current Affair. ‘One part of your mind is saying it’s real, the other part… is just perceiving it.’
‘I thought everyone was going to die on the helicopter and I’m fighting with myself to be positive.
‘So we feel incredibly grateful and just that they are both alive. This is very surprising.
One of the very first scenes reveals how he tried to help badly injured British newlywed Ron Hughes before hearing Ms De Silva’s screams.
Ron Drevlak and his wife were walking their dog on the Gold Coast when the horrific incident happened right above their heads on Monday.
Ron Drevlak describes how he rushed to the aid of those in a helicopter.
‘The sound of it and the sound of it hitting the ground, I can’t get it out of my mind,’ Drevlak told 7 News.
‘The first person I saw was Ron, we cut the seat belt, we got him out and pulled away but he was very pale.
‘ That’s when I heard Vinnie’s voice, she was just screaming.
‘I said, ‘Look don’t worry, help is on the way, it’s only water we’re just trying to dilute the fuel.’
The people of New Zealand aboard the second plane also paid tribute to the people who reached the spot for help.
Ms Steinberg revealed that shrapnel passengers in the cockpit were still being treated for their injuries
‘We saw the Metship in action,’ he said. ‘Australians come together to help in times of need.
‘Our gratitude goes out to every bystander who rushed to help, every police officer and emergency service personnel who helped with our immediate needs to keep us calm and make us comfortable.
‘We would like to extend a huge thank you to the hospital staff who looked after us during this painful experience for their kindness and compassion.’
Ms Steinberg revealed passengers were still being treated for their injuries after shrapnel hit the cockpit.
She posted on Facebook, “I am still in hospital on the Gold Coast, recovering from my injuries.”
‘May I say thanks to God for sparing us all.’
Steinberg’s son Enrico also expressed his gratitude to the pilot for his display of airmanship and skill in bringing down his helicopter without any fatalities.
“Thanks to the pilot for saving my parents from the crash and all prayers to the family who lost their loved ones,” he wrote on Instagram.
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