Friday, April 08, 2016

Kilcullen link to Queensland heli crash

The husband of a Kilcullen woman living in Queensland, Australia, had a very lucky escape in a helicopter crash this week, writes Brian Byrne.

Laura Berney's husband Daniel Gray was returning from a fishing trip on a reef off Cape Tribulation with his pilot friend Brad Maisel on Thursday evening when the aircraft got into difficulties over the sea.

The machine crashed in darkness, and Daniel swam about a kilometre to Noah Beach, where he encountered some campers. They drove him to raise the alarm and a search was undertaken immediately, with boats and another helicopter.

However, though some debris from the 2-seater Robinson R22 helicopter was subsequently washed up, there has been no sign of the 50 years old pilot, a local cane farmer, and the remains of his aircraft.

Daniel suffered a number of injuries but has since been discharged from hospital.

Local emergency services said he was very fortunate to have survived the swim in the darkness, because the seas in the area abound with stingers and crocodiles at this time of the year.

Daniel and Laura, daughter of Bernard and Mary Berney, operate a bar and grill in Port Douglas, south of where the crash took place.

"We're very thankful that he's safe and home, but it has been very traumatic," Mary Berney told the Diary this evening. "It's very difficult for him, worrying about his friend."