‘Hum­bled’ wid­ower tells of out­pour­ing of sup­port

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - EX­CLU­SIVE PETER MICHAEL

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.

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