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Pilot missing as helicopter plunges into Yarra River

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Guest Fred Bear

By Julie Tullberg


December 29, 2007 08:01pm


Article from: AAP


A PILOT is feared dead and a co-pilot has been rescued after their helicopter crashed into the Yarra River at Port Melbourne.


Jay Hall, a Leisure Boating Club Melbourne maintenance engineer, rescued the co-pilot, who's first name is Jason and who was struggling in the water after being injured in the high-impact crash near the Pier 35 marina about 6.30pm (AEDT) today.


The pilot was believed to be still in the cockpit, submerged under water.


Mr Hall said he watched a "quick blur", the black helicopter flying into the water, and then heard a loud bang from its rotors.


The helicopter was flying low after it had taken off from a nearby helipad.


Mr Hall and his friend Wayne Williams rushed to the crash site in a sports boat to rescue the helicopter's occupants within a minute.


Another friend called triple-0 as soon as the helicopter crashed.


Mr Hall said he spotted the co-pilot "about 10 metres from shore ... he was treading water".


"We threw a life buoy out to him and he was able to climb up the ladder.


"He was pretty shaken up ... he was in shock. He was hit on the back of the head and nose."


Mr Hall said he treated Jason's nose and head to try to stop the bleeding and kept him protected from a strong wind.


The helicopter went down on the pilot's left side, which left little hope for the missing pilot, Mr Hall said.


Police divers were called to the scene in a bid to recover the pilot, Mr Hall said.


"The cockpit would have been flooded after he opened the door (to escape the wreckage)," Mr Hall said.


Mr Hall said Jason saw a light on the dashboard, possibly an oil engine light, which prompted him to abandon the cockpit as soon as it crashed.


"Seeing the light on the dashboard, that's what made him jump," he said.


The co-pilot was taken to The Alfred hospital in a stable condition, receiving treatment for lacerations to the head.


Leisure Boating Club Melbourne general manager Joy King said her staff had responded quickly to the crash and played a key role in the co-pilot's rescue, describing their actions as heroic.


FURTHER: Apparently an R-44



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