Helicopter hero dragged survivor from sinking wreck
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.