Warning: This article contains images that some readers may find disturbing.
Four of the survivors of the deadly Gold Coast helicopter collision have released a series of photos that document the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
New Zealand couples Marle and Edward Swart, and Elmarie and Riaan Steenberg, were on board the descending helicopter that was struck by one just taking off.
The ascending helicopter crashed to the ground, killing four people on board and wounding three other passengers.
On Sunday, the four New Zealand survivors issued a collective statement, sharing how they are still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
“We want to express our deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the injured, deceased, and their families,” they said.
“Our hearts are deeply saddened by the loss. This has been traumatic for us as survivors, and we cannot imagine the terrible sadness their families and loved ones must be feeling.”
The couples also offered their gratitude to those who helped them, including their “hero” pilot Michael James, bystanders who rushed to their aid and emergency and medical personnel who helped them.
“Their care and heroism changed our lives,” the statement said.
“Our pilot, Michael James. You are our hero. You landed the helicopter safely and kept the bystanders and us safe. We are eternally grateful to you.”
“Unidentified bystanders who ran to our assistance. The person on the jet ski who was first on the scene and helped us out of the helicopter, the off-duty paramedic who ran to our assistance, the holidaymakers who brought us hats, towels and water, and chairs.”
“Every police officer and emergency services personnel both on the scene of the crash and later in the hospital. The staff of Villas de la Mer who helped our children to visit us and kept them safe. There are no words to describe our gratitude.”
“Every staff member involved in our care at Robina Public Hospital. Your discretion and compassionate care during our stay brought us much comfort. We will always remember your kindness.”
“Our community in New Zealand for all their well wishes and messages of comfort.
“Our dear family and friends in Australia who have supported us over this period. We appreciate you so very much.”
“Craig and the staff of Sea World Helicopters for their support. We also want to express our deep condolences for the loss of pilot Ashley Jenkinson.”
“The reality of the last five days’ events is sinking in and is a heavy weight to carry,” they said.
The four survivors also shared a series of images of their recovery in the hospital, as well as a photo snapped from inside the wreckage of the helicopter.
The four said they would continue to help the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Queensland Police with their investigation into the incident as needed.
They are headed home to New Zealand, where Elmarie and Marle will continue their lengthy recovery.
Image credits: The Swart and Steenberg families
This article first appeared on Over60.