He­li­copter hero dragged sur­vivor from sink­ing wreck

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - HOT TOPIC -

A WOMAN who sur­vived a fa­tal Whit­sun­days he­li­copter crash has opened up about the hor­rific ac­ci­dent that killed her mum and step­fa­ther, as the iden­tity of the hero pi­lot who saved her can be re­vealed for the first time.

Can­non­vale pi­lot Si­mon Ed­ward­sB­land is the hero of Hardy Reef, who pulled at least one crash sur­vivor to safety af­ter their chop­per plunged into the ocean on March 21 last year.

Emily Sheets has told for the first time how the crash changed her and her hus­band’s life for­ever and she feels “blessed to be alive”.

Al­most 10 months ago, an EC-120B op­er­ated by Hamil­ton Is­land Air and pi­loted by Mr Ed­wards-Bland ran into sus­pected en­gine trou­ble over Hardy Reef.

The he­li­copter, which was car­ry­ing Mrs Sheets and her hus­band Bobby, as well as Mrs Sheets’ mother and step­fa­ther Sue and Pete Hensel, yawed sharply left be­fore hit­ting the wa­ter.

It then rolled onto its side and be­gan a 60m de­scent be­low the sur­face. Wit­nesses to the hor­rific or­deal say the self­less pi­lot was one of the only rea­sons Mr and Mrs Sheets lived to talk about the or­deal.

Sadly, hon­ey­moon­ers Mr and Mrs Hensel died. But it was quick ac­tion by Mr Ed­wards-Bland — in­clud­ing pulling one of the sur­vivors from the wreck — that pre­vented fur­ther loss of life. The hero pi­lot did not wish to speak about the crash.

Mrs Sheets, who has just spent her first Christ­mas with­out her mother, said on so­cial me­dia she was dev­as­tated but “blessed to be alive”.

The Aus­tralian Trans­port Safety Bureau says their in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ex­pected to be com­pleted within a few months.

Mr Ed­wards-Bland.

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