A couple from the North West have been named as two of the four people killed in a terrifying helicopter crash near Sea World in Australia.
The tragic incident saw two helicopters collide in mid-air on the Gold Coast, leaving four dead and three people critically injured.
Newlyweds Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, reportedly from the Wirral, were among those killed.
Police said the other victims included the 40-year-old pilot Ashley Jenkinson and a 36-year-old woman.
Footage captured from the area shows a Sea World Helicopters aircraft being clipped by another shortly after takeoff.
One of the helicopters was able to safely land on a nearby sandbank, with its six passengers suffering minor injuries, but the other crashed upside down.
Ron’s daughter Jane Manns, who the couple were visiting in Queensland, said in a statement to 7NEWS: “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.”
Sea World Helicopters has closed ‘until further notice’, with a placeholder message on its website saying: “Sea World Helicopters is devastated by the tragic accident which happened on the Gold Coast on the 2nd January.
“Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to all those involved over this very sad time. We are closed until further notice and will refund all tickets purchased. Please bear with us during this very difficult time as we process your refund.”
A UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of two British nationals who died in Australia and are in contact with the local authorities.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has launched in investigation into fatal collision, and has asked for anyone with footage or a witness statement to come forward.
ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said: “The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into the fatal mid-air collision involving two helicopters near Seaworld on the Gold Coast, Queensland on Monday afternoon.
“Transport safety investigators with experience in helicopter operations, maintenance and survivability engineering are deploying from the ATSB’s Brisbane and Canberra offices and are expected to begin arriving at the accident site from Monday afternoon.
“During the evidence gathering phase of the investigation, ATSB investigators will examine the wreckage and map the accident site. Investigators will also recover any relevant components for further examination at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra, gather any available recorded data for analysis, and interview witnesses and other involved parties.
“The ATSB asks anyone who may have seen the collision, or who witnessed the helicopters in any phase of their flights, or who may have footage of any kind, to make contact via [email protected] at their earliest opportunity.
“The ATSB anticipates publishing a preliminary report detailing basic information gathered during the investigation’s evidence collection phase in approximately 6-8 weeks.
“A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation, however, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.”
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Tameside police officers hailed ‘absolute heroes’ after saving the life of a seven-year-old girl
Two Tameside police officers have been hailed as “absolute heroes” after saving the life of a seven-year-old little girl.
It comes after emergency services were called to an address in the Greater Manchester borough of Tameside earlier this week (29 November), and found a young girl who was struggling to breath and coughing up blood after choking on a sweet.
Police Constables Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell, from Greater Manchester Police‘s (GMP) Tameside division, were first on the scene.
To the huge relief of the girl’s parents, who were said to be “understandably distressed” and concerned for her welfare, PC Kincaid jumped straight into action and was able to utilise his first aid training to full effect by going on to successfully dislodge the sweet from the youngster’s throat, and then helping to calm her down before the paramedics arrived.
Whilst PC Kincaid looked after the little girl, PC Blundell did “everything he could” to help the parents remain calm.
Paramedics then took over once they arrived, and the young girl was taken to hospital as a precaution.
Reflecting on the incident, and hailing his officers “absolute heroes”, Superintendent Mike Walsh, from GMP’s Tameside district, said: “PCs Aaron Kincaid and James Blundell acted without hesitation during the incident, and took control of the situation that they were faced with.
“They deserve every credit for staying calm under extreme pressure and for working together as a team and utilising their training to lifesaving effect, and I’m sure the girl’s parents and family will consider them to be absolute heroes.”
“We’re both glad that we were in the right place at the right time,” PC Kincaid added.
“I have a daughter the same age as the little girl who needed our help, and I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was when she started breathing normally and said she was okay after I had managed to dislodge the sweet.