Merseyside newlyweds among four killed in Australia helicopter collision

Wirral couple Ron and Diane Hughes died in mid-air crash near Sea World in Queensland

Diane and Ron Hughes
Diane and Ron Hughes had been married for less than 18 months
(Image credit: Facebook)

A couple from the Wirral were among four people killed when two helicopters collided above Australia’s Gold Coast yesterday, officials have confirmed.

Diane Hughes, 57, and her husband Ron, 65, who wed in August 2021, were on holiday visiting his daughter when they died in the crash near the popular Sea World resort in Queensland. Their pilot, Birmingham-born Ashley Jenkinson, 40, and a 36-year-old Sydney woman named as Vanessa Tadros were also killed, and three others, including two children, were seriously injured.

Queensland Police said “initial investigations” indicated that the crash, at around 2pm local time, occurred as one helicopter was taking off and another was landing. The BBC reported that the collision was said to have “happened less than 20 seconds” after the departing helicopter left the ground. All of the dead or critically injured were in the ascending helicopter, while five of a total six people on board the other helicopter “suffered minor injuries”, according to the broadcaster.

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The collision happened just a “stone’s throw” away from the Sea World theme park, the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil reported from the crash scene. An eye witness “said that as one of the helicopters was trying to land it hovered over the park and there was concern it would crash into crowds” of people below, according to Khalil.

The Telegraph reported that “air safety investigators said the crash could have been much worse but for the skill of the second pilot”, who managed to land “despite his cockpit glass being shattered by the rotor blade of the other aircraft”. Angus Mitchell, the chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, described the second pilot’s safe landing as a “remarkable achievement”.

Jane Manns, the daughter of Ron Hughes, told 7News that her family was “heartbroken” and were still trying to contact other relations and friends to inform them of the deaths.

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 Sorcha Bradley is a writer at The Week and a regular on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. She worked at The Week magazine for a year and a half before taking up her current role with the digital team, where she mostly covers UK current affairs and politics. Before joining The Week, Sorcha worked at slow-news start-up Tortoise Media. She has also written for Sky News, The Sunday Times, the London Evening Standard and Grazia magazine, among other publications. She has a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London, where she specialised in political journalism.