‘Humbled’ widower tells of outpouring of support
FAMILIES of the victims of a horror triple parachuting fatality at Mission Beach will today mark a year since Australia’s worst skydive tragedy.
Alister Pike – the husband of local mother-of-eight Kerri Pike, who died during a tandem jump with skydiving veteran Peter Dawson – broke his silence to speak exclusively with The Courier-Mail.
“We want a pure, raw celebration of their lives,” Mr Pike said. “We’ve seen the best of humanity come forward out of this tragedy.”
About 10 skydivers – including Mr Dawson’s father Bob, who will make a tandem jump – will create an aerial tribute in honour of the beloved trio before hundreds of people gather for a community memorial on the beach.
“We can’t find words to describe the outpouring of emotion and support we’ve felt from the community,’’ Mr Pike, a local fishing charter guide, said.
“Humbled and doesn’t do it justice.
“If it wasn’t all so sad, it would be beautiful.”
Solo instructor Toby Turner, 34, tandem instructor Mr Dawson, 35, and Mrs Pike, 54 – who had been gifted the tandem jump as a birthday present – died in a mid-air collision at a speed of up to 220km/h over the popular jump site in far north Queensland on October 13 last year.
It is believed the “prema- grateful ture deployment” depl t” of f Mr Turner’s main parachute while he was underneath the tandem pair was to blame for the accident, a pre-inquest conference in Cairns heard in August.
Footage from a GoPro worn by Mr Dawson captured the moments before tragedy struck. “We don’t want any recriminations,” Mr Pike said.
“The evidence will come out at the inquest, we’ve got lots of questions that we want answers to and our day in court will come. The skydivers, they’re all friends of mine, my family does not have a monopoly on pain and suffering, they’re hurting too.’’
Mr Pike vetoed plans by Skydive Mission Beach, owned by adventure tourism giant Experience Co, to run commercial operations, which average 50 jumps a day, at the beach drop zone today.