Injured boy wakes after Qld helicopter crash

Injured boy wakes in hospital

One of two boys critically injured in a midair helicopter collision in Queensland, in which four people died, has woken up in hospital.

Nine-year-old Leon de Silva suffered brain trauma in Monday’s crash near Sea World on the Gold Coast, but woke up in Brisbane Children’s Hospital on Thursday morning, a Queensland Health source confirmed.

His mother Winnie, 33, is also awake and in intensive care on the Gold Coast with two broken legs, a damaged left knee, a broken right shoulder and a broken collarbone.

The only other survivor, 10-year-old Sydney boy Nicholas Tadros, is in an induced coma after undergoing multiple operations for “absolutely catastrophic” injuries he suffered in the accident.

“It’s only by God’s grace that he survived. He remains in an induced coma and on life-support with his father and his grandmother by his side,” family friend Rochelle Fajloun told Sunrise.

Nicholas’ mother Vanessa Tadros, 36, Britons Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, and 40-year-old pilot Ashley Jenkinson died at the scene on Monday.

Sea World Helicopters owner and director John Orr-Campbell has broken his silence to pay tribute to the victims.

“The tragic helicopter accident on the Southport Broadwater on 2 January 2023 has impacted many people, and we pay tribute to those that lost their lives,” he said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

“We also acknowledge the suffering of those that were injured.

“We have and continue to reach out directly to offer our deepest condolences, support and counselling to the families and passengers of both aircraft.”

Mr Orr-Campbell said the company was mourning the death of its chief pilot Mr Jenkinson, an English father-of-one who lived on the Gold Coast.

“I knew Ash personally for nine years. He was a fine man and a standout pilot with 6210 hours of flying to his name,” the statement said.

“To lose a man and a pilot of Ash’s calibre is shocking in every sense of the word. I, along with all the staff at Sea World Helicopters, are gutted to the core.

“My heart aches as I think of Ash’s fiancee Kosha and his one-year-old son Kayden.”

Mr Orr-Campbell also acknowledged second pilot Michael James, who was able to land his chopper safely after the incident, sparing the lives of all on board.

“I would also like to commend the other pilot, Michael James, who heroically got the second aircraft to the ground safely. We wish him well in his recovery.”

sea world helicopter

Footage from inside the second helicopter shows a passenger tapping pilot Michael James on the shoulder.

The statement comes after a video shot by one of the passengers in the second chopper involved in the collision was published online.

The footage, shot from inside the cockpit, appears to show a passenger trying to warn pilot Michael James about the other helicopter by tapping him on the shoulder.

The passenger then squeezes the edge of the pilot’s seat to brace as the cockpit is sprayed with broken glass after the other helicopter’s main rotor strikes the windshield.

Mr de Silva said his wife Winnie wanted to send her personal condolences to the families of other victims in the crash.

“We’re going through hell and can’t imagine what they’re going through, so she wanted to let them know that she’s thinking and praying for them,” he said.


Topics: Queensland
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