Mother describes the panic on board doomed SeaWorld helicopter

Inside the terrifying last moments aboard doomed SeaWorld helicopter – mother who survived describes the panic on board and how she and her badly injured son had stared death in the eye

  • Winnie de Silva, 33, revealed what it was like on board the Sea World helicopter
  • Ms de Silva was left with severe injuries after the helicopter crash on Monday 
  • She said she heard a ‘loud bang’ and felt ‘shaking’ after the helicopters collided 
  • Her nine-year-old son, who was also on board, remains in a critical condition

A mother on board one of the Sea World helicopters that collided in a horrific tragedy killing four people revealed the chaos onboard as the chopper went down.

Winnie de Silva, 33, spoke for the first time about the tragedy at the Gold Coast theme park which has left her son Leon, nine, fighting for life in a coma.

Originally from Kenya and now living in Geelong, the community support worker had dreamed of taking her little boy on a helicopter joy flight.

But just 20 seconds after take-off she heard a ‘loud bang’ and felt ‘shaking’ as the main rotor blades smashed through the cockpit of a second helicopter. 

‘I could see the pilot pressing all these buttons, stressed out – he didn’t know what to do. I don’t remember much (after that) but everyone was trembling and worried,’ Ms de Silva told the Herald Sun.

Ms de Silva (above) has two broken legs, a broken right shoulder, a broken collarbone and a damaged left knee after the Sea World helicopter crash

The two Sea World helicopters (above) clipped each other in front of hundreds of holidaymakers on the Gold Coast

Winnie de Silva, 33, moved to Australia from Kenya and her son Leon, 9, (pictured together) joined her just a year ago

Gripped with terror as the Eurocopter EC130 started to nosedive towards the ground, she squeezed her son’s hand as tightly as she could.

‘The only thing I could see was death in my eyes. I didn’t want to see death in my eyes so I closed them and held my son’s hand beside me,’ she said.

Just seconds later the chopper burst into flames as it crashed into a sandbar, claiming the lives of pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40, Sydney mum Vanessa Tadros, 36, and British couple Ron, 65, and Dianne Hughes, 57.

The other helicopter piloted by Michael James, 52, miraculously landed safely on a nearby sandbar with no fatalities. 

She remembers opening her eyes while trapped in the crumpled wreckage.

‘My feet and right arm were stuck. I remember screaming and yelling out for help… I wasn’t able to get out,’ Ms de Silva said.

Shortly after, a police officer came to her aid asking for her name and date of birth but she couldn’t remember. 

Ms de Silva’s son Leon (above) suffered a fractured skull in the tragic crash and is fighting for life in hospital 

Four people were killed in a horror helicopter crash on Monday after two Sea World aircraft collided on the Gold Coast (pictured, the wreckage of the crash)

She suffered two broken legs, severe damage to her left knee, a badly broken right shoulder and shattered her collarbone in the impact.

Doctors expect her to remain at the Gold Coast University Hospital for several weeks and she now faces months of surgeries, rehabilitation and recovery.

However, her horrific injuries pale in comparison to nine-year-old Leon – who only moved to Australia a year ago to be with his mother.

He suffered a fractured skull, brain trauma and facial injuries in the crash.

He is being treated in Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and is now in an induced coma. 

How the crash unfolded: A step-by-step run through of how the crash that killed four is understood to have happened

Ms de Silva’s husband Neil (above) decided to shout her and Leon a 10-minute flight so they could have the experience despite being on a ‘budget holiday to save money’

‘The hospital rang me early this morning to say the left side wasn’t responding how they liked,’ Mr de Silva told the Herald Sun on Tuesday.

‘They asked my permission to drill a hole into the right side of his skull to attach a device to monitor his brain pressure.’

Ms de Silva’s husband Neil had taken the family on a quick holiday to the Gold Coast and decided to shout the pair a 10-minute flight so they could have the experience despite being on a ‘budget holiday to save money’.

After waving the pair off Mr de Silva watched on in ‘numb’ disbelief as they ascended into the flightpath of the other helicopter, collided in an explosion of glass and crashed to the ground. 

Mr De Silva added that despite their significant injuries he felt fortunate they had both survived. He has set up a GoFundMe to help with their hospital bills. 

Investigations are continuing into what caused the crash. 

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