Flight MH17: ‘Please get hold of me, buddy’

2014-07-20 15:00

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The death of a South African helicopter pilot on the doomed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 has left the local emergency rescue community reeling.

Cameron Dalziel (43), originally from Umhlanga Rocks in KwaZulu-Natal, was on a two-day course in the Netherlands and was returning to Malaysia where he lived and worked.

Dalziel was a crew member on the former John Rolfe surf rescue helicopter for many years and later worked for various emergency rescue airlines.

For the past few years he had worked as a manager at CHC Helicopter, an international helicopter service.

Chris Berlyn, a good friend and fellow helicopter pilot, said Dalziel’s wife, Reiné, and his two sons, Sheldon (14) and Cruz (4), were devastated.

They moved to Miri in Malaysia in December last year after Dalziel accepted a managerial position at CHC Helicopter.

“He wanted to spend more time at home after flying all around the world for years,” Berlyn said. “He was larger than life.”

Reiné’s brother, Shane Hattingh, who was a contestant on Survivor SA: Champions earlier this year, said: “She does not know where she will get the strength to cope.

“My sister is a very loving person. She doesn’t deserve this.”

Their mother saw the news of the plane crash on TV on Thursday night and phoned Malaysia, waking up her daughter.

At the time, Reiné had no idea Flight MH17 had gone down.

Neil Noble, an Australian paramedic who had known Dalziel for 21 years, said on Thursday Dalziel told a colleague via a WhatsApp message that Malaysia Airlines had bumped him from economy to business class.

Berlyn said that any pilot knew he could die in a plane crash, but to be shot down by terrorists “simply leaves one furious”.

Another friend, Paul Doxey, pleaded for information on Dalziel’s Facebook page after news of the crash rocked the world.

“Cameron, please get hold of me buddy. Please please please.”

Elsewhere on the pilot’s Facebook page, friends remembered him as “one of the good people?–?a true gentleman”.

“It was an honour to have flown with you,” wrote Matt Gunning.

Meanwhile, Shadrack Noto, the South African father of another passenger, Thamsanqa Uyterlinde-Noto (27), told Eyewitness News he was avoiding watching TV.

Uyterlinde-Noto was born in Amsterdam and only had a Dutch passport.

Noto says his son was going to visit his girlfriend in Malaysia and that he spoke to him 20 minutes before he boarded the plane.

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