Family ‘heartbroken’ after British couple killed in Gold Coast helicopter crash

Ron and Diane Hughes from Neston, Cheshire, had reportedly been visiting his daughter and her family in Australia when the tragedy occurred.

04 January 2023

The daughter of a British man who was killed, alongside his wife, in a helicopter crash on Australia’s Gold Coast has said their family is “heartbroken”.

Ron, 65, and Diane Hughes, 57, from Neston, Cheshire, had reportedly been visiting his daughter and her family in Australia when the tragedy occurred.

In a statement to media Jane Manns said: “Our family is heartbroken and we are still trying to contact friends and family to let them know.

“Please respect our privacy at this devastating time.”

A sand island with crashed helicopter, victims and emergency services on Gold Coast, Australia Monday, Jan. 2, 2023
Two helicopters collided in the Australian tourist hotspot on Monday afternoon (CH9/AP)

The British couple was killed alongside the pilot and another passenger – a 36-year-old woman from Glenmore Park, New South Wales – when their helicopter collided with another at around 2pm local time – 4am GMT – on Monday in Main Beach.

Three other passengers, including two children, who were badly injured remain in hospital.

According to the BBC, the helicopter pilot who died in the crash was originally from Birmingham but lived in the Gold Coast area.

A friend of 40-year-old Ashley Jenkinson told the broadcaster the pilot was a “silent hero and gentle giant” who “would have done everything to bring the helicopter down safely”.

Ritchie Gregg added: “He was a top guy with so much experience. He’s flown in all sorts of terrain and environments, we’re completely shocked.”

Mrs Hughes’ brother Dave Boyce earlier wrote on Facebook: “For those who don’t know my sister and her husband were involved in the helicopter crash on the Gold Coast yesterday.

“We would also like to thank you all for the love and support we have received. We are truly humbled at this heartbreaking time.”

The force said “initial investigations” indicate the collision occurred when one helicopter was taking off and the other was landing.

Australia helicopter crash, victims named
The crashed helicopter on Main Beach on the Gold Coast (CH9/AP)

One of the helicopters was able to safely land on the sandbank, with five of its six passengers suffering only minor injuries.

However, the other helicopter crashed, killing four of those inside, and leaving a further three critically injured.

A 10-year-old boy from Glenmore Park suffered critical injuries in the incident while a 33-year-old woman and a nine-year-old boy, both travelling from Geelong West, Victoria, suffered serious injuries.

The forensic crash unit is investigating the incident with help from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “We are supporting the family of two British nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities.”

Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said his thoughts were with those affected by the incident.

“Australia is shocked by the news of the terrible and tragic helicopter incident today on the Gold Coast,” he said in a tweet.

“My thoughts are with all those affected, including first responders, and my deepest sympathies are with those who are grieving.”

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tweeted it was an “unthinkable tragedy”.

She said: “My deepest sympathies are with each of the families and everyone affected by this terrible accident.”

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