Muster pi­lot dies in crash

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS McMAHON PE­TER MICHAEL

OUT­BACK chop­per pi­lot Brent Ac­ton was killed yes­ter­day en route to a mus­ter­ing job in north­west Queens­land.

The fa­ther of two, 40, died when his Robin­son R22 heli­copter crashed into a pad­dock on La­nark Prop­erty, about 20km north of Clon­curry, and burst into flames about 7.15am.

The accident has rocked the small com­mu­nity, with po­lice and the Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bu­reau to in­spect the heli­copter and nearby power lines to see if Mr Ac­ton hit the lines be­fore crash­ing.

It is un­der­stood Mr Ac­ton was fly­ing to a sta­tion fur­ther north to do some mus­ter­ing.

The for­mer Toowoomba Gram­mar School stu­dent and Clon­curry Mus­ter­ing Com­pany pi­lot had logged about 10,000 hours fly­ing time.

Mr Ac­ton, re­lated to the Ac­ton Su­per Beef fam­ily dy­nasty, is sur­vived by wife Shona and two young sons.

It is un­der­stood the bush com­mu­nity will pay their re­spects to his loss at the town’s big­gest an­nual rodeo event, the Curry Merry Muster Fes­ti­val, this week­end.

Clon­curry Po­lice of­fi­cer in charge and lo­cal coun­cil­lor Se­nior Sergeant Brad Rix said it was not known if Mr Ac­ton’s heli­copter hit the pow­er­lines or if there was a me­chan­i­cal fail­ure that led to the crash.

“He was head­ing out to a prop­erty about 30 odd kilo­me­tres out of town to do some mus­ter­ing, he wasn’t mus­ter­ing at the time and it’s un­de­ter­mined yet as to what hap­pened,” Sen- Sgt Rix said.

“The chop­per has ended up on the ground, in a ball of flames, with him de­ceased in it.

“It is in the vicin­ity of pow­er­lines but un­til the proper ex­am­i­na­tion of the blades is done, we can’t say for sure.”

Sen- Sgt Rix said the pow­er­lines had not been brought down near the crash site.

“The chop­per blades will be in­spected and the pow­er­lines will be looked at a lot closer,” he said.

“We can’t be 100 per cent sure that he has hit them, it is a pos­si­bil­ity that that’s what hap­pened, but it’s also a pos­si­bil­ity that there was a me­chan­i­cal fail­ure in the vicin­ity of the pow­er­lines.”

It is un­der­stood an­other heli­copter fly­ing close by saw the crash and flew to a nearby sta­tion to raise the alarm and get fire­fight­ing equip­ment, but Mr Ac­ton could not be saved.

Foren­sic crash and scenes of crime in­ves­ti­ga­tions will cen­tre around the air­craft, which is part of a fleet of 20 two- seater R22s and three four- seater R44s, with the in­quiry to be over­seen by the ATSB, po­lice said.

Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Author­ity spokesman Pe­ter Gib­son said the Robin­son R22 heli­copter was com­mon in mus­ter­ing and bush pilots were trained for low fly­ing and taught about the risk of pow­er­lines.

A re­port is be­ing pre­pared for the coro­ner.

DISAS­TER SCENE: The burned out wreck­age of the heli­copter crash on a prop­erty north of Clon­curry yes­ter­day which claimed the life of Brent Ac­ton ( in­set), pic­tured with wife Shona.

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