QAS paramedic at the scene of the accident, after being winched to the accident scene from the RACQ - CQ Rescue helicopter.
QAS paramedic at the scene of the accident, after being winched to the accident scene from the RACQ - CQ Rescue helicopter. RACQ – CQ Rescue

Crews return to chopper crash site

RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue is returning to the site of yesterday's helicopter crash where two men were killed.

The crew airlifted the survivor of the crash to Rockhampton Hospital in a stable condition last night, but were unable to return after nightfall.

Police and firefighters are on board to assist the crew with recovering the bodies on Double Mountain, 90km north of Rockhampton.

A crew member said firefighters would use specialist cutting equipment to help remove the bodies from the wreckage.

Investigators are expected to interview the survivor who, incredibly, walked away from the wreckage with superficial injuries.

The 55-year-old man who had been a passenger, spent the night in Rockhampton Hospital where his condition was described as stable.

Early reports suggested he had suffered spinal and abdominal injuries, but Queensland Ambulance Service said he had nothing more than a minor shoulder injury.

Leonie Hansen, a spokeswoman for the RACQ CQ Helicopter Rescue Service, said rescuers were amazed at the survivor's condition.

"They said considering the horrendous wreckage this man had an incredible escape," she said.

The chopper landed upside down in heavily wooded bushland at the base of a steep embankment on Double Mountain in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.

Rescue helicopters carrying doctors and paramedics from Mackay and Rockhampton flew to the site after the pilot had contacted police at mid-day by radio shortly before crashing.

The difficult terrain caused problems for the rescuers.

Brad Nagy, a crewman with the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service said when he winched rescuers to the ground it took them up to 20 minutes to scramble just 150m through the trees.

The crew said it was the worst accident they had attended for years.

It is understood that the first crew on scene, from Mackay, had been briefed to expect one body and two survivors.

Police today will attempt to reach the crash site by road to recover the bodies and wreckage from the dense vegetation.

Police will also prepare a report for the coroner and assist air crash investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Two Defence Department officials will accompany them.

The dead pilot is believed to be from Cairns. It is understood that the six-seater AS350 Squirrel helicopter which crashed is owned by Heli Charters, a Cairns company.

The men on board were on a routine flight conducting maintenance on radio communications towers when the alarm was raised.

Identities were withheld last night and will not be released until the bodies have been recovered.

In a brief statement, Heli Charters said it could not comment because no official details of the crash were available.

It is believed to be the third incident involving one of the company's aircraft this year. In January a joy flight carrying three tourists crash landed on a beach.


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