Three hurt as chopper crashes at Newcastle farm

2013-01-26 00:00

WITH no thought for her own safety, Newcastle resident Wanda Wilson rushed to the aid of three people whose helicopter crashed on her farm yesterday morning.

The helicopter, which was on its way to Newcastle airport to fuel up before heading to Villiers, crashed after it hit powerlines.

The pilot, Francois Liebenberg, who apparently works for G4 Helicopters, his brother and a friend were all rushed to Newcastle Mediclinic.

According to Wilson, all three are doing well.

She told Weekend Witness she was sitting in her lounge and realised something was wrong when she heard a strange sound coming from outside her house. “I got up and opened the curtain to see the helicopter lose control and crash.”

Wilson quickly ran outside. When she got to the scene, she could smell fuel and was worried about the people inside.

“I asked if everyone was okay. The pilot was unconscious and the passengers were awake, but they were just lying there,” she said.

Wilson pulled the back door open and unbuckled the rear passenger’s seat belt and pulled him out.

She did the same with the passenger sitting in front.

“The pilot was not responding. I couldn’t reach his body, so I slapped him about two or three times on his arm,” Wilson said, adding that the pilot had a head injury.

She screamed for her employees to come and assist her and they managed to pull Liebenberg out through the broken front windscreen. She then called the police and ambulance service.

After everyone was out of the wreckage, Wilson called her husband, a commercial pilot, to ask him how to switch the helicopter off, because she feared it might explode. Her husband directed her to switch the main battery off, making the scene safe. Although her adrenaline was running high, Wilson said her main concern was the safety of the helicopter’s occupants.

“I just wanted to get everyone away from the helicopter. God’s hand was over me. Emergency services were on the scene in record time; I was impressed by the response time,” Wilson said.

Asked about her bravery, Wilson said that credit should be given to her employees, who helped without thought for their safety.

Bray Marié from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the accident was reported to them yesterday morning.

• Siyathemba.Ben@media24.com

Photo:

Nafisa Moolla

Photo:

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