Chopper crash at Bulwer

2014-09-23 00:00

TWO men were killed yesterday when their helicopter crashed in a plantation in Underberg.

Timber workers Craig Wright and a colleague were the first persons to arrive at the scene and tried to save the pilot and his passenger.

Wright said they were harvesting on Springfield farm at about 11 am when they heard the helicopter flying in the vicinity.

“We heard a helicopter flying in from a distance. In a few seconds we heard a big bang which was followed by an explosion.

“We ran to the directions from where the noises came. We could see the thick smoke coming up.

“We ran to the river to get water and managed to put out the fire, but it was too late for them as they were already dead. We wanted to save them. It didn’t happen the way we wanted as we thought that they were alive. The only thing in our minds was to get them out of that helicopter without thinking about our own lives when we were extinguishing the fire,” said Wright.

He added that they then phoned timber contractor Barry Woodroffe and informed him of the accident.

Underberg community watch security co-ordinator John Pearce told The Witness that he was contacted by Woodroffe and told of the incident.

“I phoned the police, Berg Protection and the Virginia airport in Durban after receiving a call about this incident. We don’t know who these people were,” said Pearce.

A source told The Witness that the pilot is believed to be from Winterton and the passenger from Stellenbosch. It is thought that they were conducting an alien plant survey at the time.

The cause of the accident was unknown yesterday.

SA Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu, said they no longer comment on accidents and referred The Witness to the national Transport Department. The department was not available to comment last night.

Yesterday’s incident comes just days after an aircraft which took off from Rand Airport, east of Johannesburg, crashed while flying to Newcastle.

The Civil Aviation Authority is still investigating the cause of several crashes which occurred around the country in recent weeks.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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