Two helicopters collide in Gold Coast, Australia

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Sea World Helipad, where the crash happened.
Image: Phil Vabre.

Two helicopters operated by Sea World Helicopters collided near the Sea World theme park located in Gold Coast, Australia Monday, leaving four people dead and three critically injured. The helicopters, believed to be taking off and landing, crashed on a nearby sandbar at around 2 PM AEST (UTC 4:00).

Witnesses reported a loud bang before seeing one landing nearby and another crashing down after the helicopters moved too close to each other. It is believed that one helicopter, taking off with 7 passengers collided with a helicopter landing with 6 passengers, causing the helicopter taking off to crash onto the sandbar.

Police have reported that the four dead were 40-year-old pilot Ash Jenkinson, a 37-year-old woman from New South Wales and a 57-year-old and 65-year-old couple from the United Kingdom. Three more passengers were reportedly in hospital with critical injuries. Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell has stated that the crash could have been "far worse", as one helicopter landed on the sandbar safely. The ATSB has begun to investigate the incident, asking witnesses to contact it.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that it was an "unthinkable tragedy", expressing her sympathy for the people affected on Twitter. Friends of Jenkinson, the pilot, have remembered him on social media as a "big guy with a big heart" and "someone you just naturally wanted to be around".