The Hughes were in an aircraft being flown by the skilled pilot Ashley Jenkinson when it crashed with another helicopter at a height of 200 to 300 meters.
On the afternoon of January 2, four people tragically lost their lives when two helicopters collided mid-air near Sea World on Australia's Gold Coast in front of hundreds of scared tourists. A British couple named Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57 years old, was also among those who passed in the terrible crash. Ron and Diane were natives of Neston, Cheshire. According to Queensland Police, they were on vacation and had recently gotten married in August 2021.
The couple, who are from the English region of Merseyside, went to the Gold Coast to see Ron's daughter Jane Manns, her husband Ben Manns, and their kids. According to early information, the Hughes were in the aircraft being flown by skilled pilot Ashley Jenkinson when it crashed with another helicopter at a height of 200 to 300 meters. Jenkinson's cockpit was hit by the main rotor blade of the second helicopter, which was taking off and ascending, as he descended to land.
In the wake of the couple's passing, as members depart for Australia, the family expressed their devastation in a statement to 7 News. “Our family is heartbroken and we are still trying to contact friends and family to let them know,” Jane and Ben Manns said. They added, “Please respect our privacy at this devastating time.”
“We would like to thank you all for the love and support we have received. We are truly humbled at this heartbreaking time,” Diane's brother, Dave Boyce, said in a Facebook post. Paul Lightfoot, a neighbor of the deceased couple, told the BBC, “I saw Ronnie (Hughes) walking his dog the day before he flew, he was looking forward to his holiday. He was a lovely fella, he was well known locally. It's just a massive shock.”
Jenkinson, Diane, and Ron Hughes, as well as 36-year-old Sydney resident Vanessa Tadros, perished in the ensuing collision. Nicholas Tadros, age 10, Winnie De Silva, age 33, of Geelong, and Leon Tadros, age 9, were all seriously hurt in the collision and are still in the hospital. “It does appear that the main rotor blade of the helicopter blade taking off has collided with the front cockpit of the descending helicopter on the left-hand side,” said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) Angus Mitchell. “Now, exactly whether that was the very first point of impact, we’re yet to determine,” Mitchell added.
According to the ATSB, all individuals killed and seriously hurt were inside the rising helicopter, which collapsed seconds after its main rotor blade hit the other aircraft's cockpit. On the sandbank, the second helicopter touched down upright. Six passengers were on board, and five of them had minor injuries. Given that the helicopter was damaged "where the pilot was sitting," the landing was a "remarkable achievement," according to aviation safety commissioner Mitchell. "We are very fortunate that we're not standing here with far more deaths," he added.
Cover Image Source: Facebook | Diane Hughes