SeaWorld helicopter crash: Mum Winnie De Silva describes Gold Coast collision

A mother and son who survived a horrific helicopter crash over Sea World have described what happened in the moments after they plummeted to the ground.

Winnie De Silva and her nine-year-old son Leon made a last minute decision to board the joy ride helicopter on January 2, 2023 before it collided with another helicopter mid-air over the Gold Coast theme park.

Pilot Ashley Jenkinson, Sydney mum Vanessa Tadros and British newlyweds Ron and Diane Hughes were all killed during the crash.

Ms De Silva said she can still remember what went through her mind as the helicopter crashed to the ground and the chaotic moments that followed.

“The only thing I told myself was to close my eyes and I asked Leon to close his eyes as well,” she told Today on Tuesday morning.

“I remember praying, saying ‘God, let your will be done’.”

There was a brief moment when she wasn’t sure whether Leon had survived or if she was alive herself.

“When they said ‘Leon is OK and we’re going to get you out of here,’ I felt a breakthrough. I felt … I was given a second life,” she said.

Out of respect for the four victims of the crash and their families, Sea World Helicopters has put a blanket hold on joy flights on Tuesday, the first anniversary of the horror crash.

The husband of Vanessa Tadros – who died during the crash – and father to Nicholas – who miraculously survived after a number of intensive surgeries – shared a tribute to his late wife on the anniversary of her death.

“Today has been one year since the worst day of my life occurred, that has changed my life forever,” he wrote in a post to Facebook.

He described Vanessa as the “most beautiful soul a person could have” with a heart “always filled with love and compassion for everyone”.

“I ask that everyone today remember all the good times and the laughs that they shared with Vanessa,” he said.

“I ask we pray not only for Vanessa but also for everyone that lost their lives in the Sea World Helicopter accident, and for their families as well.

“Vanessa will never be forgotten.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commissioned a German company to recreate the crash to simulate the sightlines of the two pilots within the helicopter cockpits.

The results will be published in a final report authored by investigators which is set to be released by mid-2024.

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