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Moment woman walks from chopper crash

Stuart Hill, 30, and girlfriend Becky Dobson, 27, died in the crash. Picture: Supplied
Stuart Hill, 30, and girlfriend Becky Dobson, 27, died in the crash. Picture: Supplied

AN incredible photo appears to show a woman climbing from the wreckage of a helicopter crash in the Grand Canyon in which three died - as the first pics of the victims emerge.

Jason Hill, 32, younger brother Stuart, 30, and Stuart's girlfriend Becky Dobson, 27, all died when the aircraft exploded in a fireball in the Arizona desert on Saturday local time.

 

Another three passengers - including Jason's girlfriend - and the pilot, survived after spending the night in critical condition at the bottom of a mile-deep valley in a 80 Kph storm.

The injured have been identified as Jennifer Barham, 39, and newlyweds Ellie Milward, 29, and Jonathan Udall, 32.

They were rushed to University Medical Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada, along with pilot Scott Booth, 42, all in a critical condition.

The group were all from Worthing, West Sussex, England, and booked the USA trip to celebrate Mr Hill's 30th birthday.

His family said Mr Hill, a solicitor, saved up for a year to fund the once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Reverend David Hill, the brothers' father, said: "The two brothers loved each other and were very close, and so our misfortune is their support - because they went together, and I will thank God every day for them."

Holding back tears, he went on: "They were truly loved by lots of people. They were incredibly close, and as parents we feel blessed to have had them, but a light has truly gone out.

"Six of them went out for my son's 30th birthday. They had saved for a year to go, and it was a helicopter accident. We are absolutely devastated."

Jason Hill, 32, Stuart’s brother, also died. Picture: Supplied
Jason Hill, 32, Stuart’s brother, also died. Picture: Supplied

Friends paid tribute to Stuart's girlfriend Becky, 27, who described her as a "lovely person inside and out".

Becky worked in a pet shop in Worthing before last year heading out to Australia for a travelling stint.

In her profile on her work website, she described her love for animals and her dream of becoming a veterinary nurse.

She said: "I also love to travel the world and explore what is out there beyond good old Worthing."

Ellie Milward, 29, and her husband Jonathan Udall were flown to hospital after surviving the crash. Picture: Supplied
Ellie Milward, 29, and her husband Jonathan Udall were flown to hospital after surviving the crash. Picture: Supplied

A former neighbour of survivor Jennifer Barham, 39 from Guildford, Surrey, said: "It's awful what happened, she lived next to us for a few years with her family but they moved last year.

"I'm so glad she's alive and I hope she can get home soon, it's terrible.

"I don't know what she would have been doing there, perhaps she was on holiday, I'm not entirely sure though.

"The family kept themselves to themselves when they lived here but were always polite and would say hello when we would see them."

Jennifer Barham, 39, was one of four people to survive the horror crash. Picture: Supplied
Jennifer Barham, 39, was one of four people to survive the horror crash. Picture: Supplied

The family of other survivor Jon Udall today said the 32-year-old was alive in hospital following the crash.

Rescuers struggled to reach the stricken Eurocopter EC130, operated by tour company Papillon Airways, after it crashed into the Arizona landmark at 5.20pm (12.20am GMT) on Saturday.

It is not yet clear what caused the deadly crash.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: "We are providing support to the families of six British visitors involved in a helicopter accident at the Grand Canyon on February 10, and we are in close contact with the US emergency services."

Authorities said the four survivors were level one trauma patients - meaning they sustained critical and life-threatening injuries.

Emergency personnel arrive at the scene of a deadly tour helicopter crash along the jagged rocks of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Picture: Teddy Fujimoto via AP
Emergency personnel arrive at the scene of a deadly tour helicopter crash along the jagged rocks of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Picture: Teddy Fujimoto via AP

Hualapai Nation Police Chief Francis Bradley Sr said the pilot had a severe limb injury and another of the passengers suffered severe burns.

Emergency crews had difficulty reaching the injured survivors due to windy, dark, and rugged conditions.

It took rescuers nearly nine hours to reach the crash site in a deep gorge on the Hualapai Native American reservation.

Chief Bradley said: "Yesterday, we were hampered by severe weather conditions, we had gusts up to 50mph. The terrain where the crash occurred ... is extremely rugged."

He added: "First responders had to be flown in and walk to the crash site.

"Quartermaster Canyon is an extremely remote area. We had to call in specially trained crews - people with night-vision goggles."

Rescuers eventually got help from military aircraft from Nellis air force Base in Las Vegas.

Earlier on Saturday, the National Weather Service had warned that conditions over the Grand Canyon were windy.

Chief Bradley said weather conditions were "not normal," but no flight restrictions had been imposed.

Brenda Halvorson, CEO of Papillon Group told Sun Online: "It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident.

"Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff. Family members seeking immediate assistance, please call 1-866-512-9121.

"We are cooperating fully with NTSB investigators and local authorities."

It states on its website that it provides "the only way to tour the Grand Canyon" and claims to be "the world's largest aerial sightseeing company".

Witnesses described scenes of chaos after spotting the sightseeing aircraft engulfed in flames approximately 600ft inside the ravine.

Lionel Douglass was attending a wedding around 1,000 yards away from where the helicopter crashed and exploded.

He told ABC: "It fell down between the mountains, the tail broke in half, it hit the bottom and it was the biggest explosion you ever heard and then flames like you never seen before."

He added: "I had taken my phone and I was zooming in to see if I could see anybody and a lady walked out of the flames and I just lost it."

A survivor, lower right, walks away from the scene of the helicopter crash along the jagged rocks of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Picture: Teddy Fujimoto via AP
A survivor, lower right, walks away from the scene of the helicopter crash along the jagged rocks of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Picture: Teddy Fujimoto via AP

Photographer Teddy Fujimoto, who was taking wedding pictures, told DailyMail.com: "Immediately saw two girls. I could see that they were alive and conscious. They were in their 30s or 40s.

"A lot of chaos going on. They were down in the valley, around 600ft down from where we were.

"People made their way down. It was certainly dangerous and a mazy climb down for them."

And he told the Las Vegas Review Journal: "You can hear the screams from the ladies.

"One of them was calling out a name.

"It's just horrible. You want to help, but you can't."

He said it took around 10 minutes for emergency services to arrive and by the time they got there most of the flames were out.

Papillon was involved in a sightseeing helicopter crash that left six dead in 2001, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The company has also been the focus of around a dozen aviation probes, the paper reported.

 

This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission.

Topics:  crash flying


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