A newlywed couple from Hawaii were on the honeymoon of their dreams when they died after a helicopter plummeted into the ocean near the Great Barrier Reef.
Pete, 79, and Sue Hensel, 65, married in December and planned a ‘trip of a lifetime’ when they were killed in the tragic helicopter crash over the Whitsunday Islands, The Courier Mail reported.
Two people from Colorado, believed to be Ms Hensel’s daughter, 33, and her partner, 34, survived the crash along with the 35-year-old local Australian pilot.
Heroic witnesses risked their lives to pluck the passengers from the wreckage of the helicopter as it sunk.
Pete, 79, (left) and Sue Hensel, 65, (right) married in December and were on their ‘trip of a lifetime’ when they were killed in the tragic helicopter crash over the Great Barrier Reef
The Hawaiian tourists died in a horrible Whitsundays helicopter crash Wednesday afternoon (pictured)
Another three people survived the crash (pictured) including the pilot and two American tourists – a man, 34, and a woman, 33, believed to be Ms Hensel’s daughter, from Colorado
The pair (pictured) were described by friends as having a ‘beautiful story’ and were ‘so happy’ to have found each other
The helicopter pilot pulled Ms Hensel from her seat in the Airbus H120 but more than an hour of desperate CPR attempts failed to save her. Mr Hensel also died at the scene.
The pair, who had been single ‘forever’, shared a ‘beautiful story’ and were ‘so happy’ when they found each other, Vern Ungerecht – Pete’s lifelong friend – told the publication.
‘We used to have drinks with them at the bar almost every day. Pete doesn’t say much, but Sue, she was always chatting and smiling,’ Mr Ungerecht said.
‘For them to go doing something they had looked forward to for so long, we can take some pleasure in that.’
Ms Hensel worked for a bookkeeping service while her new husband was retired.
Friends of the happy couple said their faces were always seen at the local Kona Elks Lodge and they would miss having them around.
‘They were so happy, and a really sweet couple … they will certainly be missed,’ one friend wrote.
The helicopter was on its final approach towards a landing pontoon some 65km north-east of Whitsunday Islands.
‘We used to have drinks with them at the bar almost every day. Pete doesn’t say much, but Sue, she was always chatting and smiling,’ Pete’s lifelong friend Vern Ungerecht said
Witnesses performed CPR on the Hawaiian couple, but with emergency services more than an hour away, the victims died at the scene (pictured are police at the scene)
Queensland Police District Inspector Ian Haughton (pictured) confirmed the deaths of the two American tourists on Thursday who died after the crash off Hardy Reef Pontoon
The crash is the second incident in four months for the helicopter company after it failed to land on the platoon (pictured) near the Whitsunday Islands
It is not known exactly what caused the accident, but moments later the helicopter and all on board plunged into the water just meters away from its target.
Queensland Police District Inspector Ian Haughton confirmed the deaths of the two American tourists on Thursday following the crash off Hardy Reef Pontoon.
‘It was a normal flight … on this occasion, something went wrong and the consequences are tragic,’ Insp Haughton told media.
‘This is a traumatic experience for any involved in the situation.’
The crash is the second incident in four months for the helicopter company, ABC News reported.
In November last year, Hamilton Island Air – a registered business of Whitsunday Air Services – was involved in a crash off Hamilton Island.
The three passengers survived but the helicopter sank and has not been recovered.
‘It was a normal flight … on this occasion, something went wrong and the consequences are tragic,’ Insp Haughton told media (pictured the crash scene)
Heroic onlookers tried to save the passengers at the Whitsundays crash site while listening to instructions during a phone call with paramedics for more than an hour
Police and other emergency service vessels were en route to Hardy Reef (map pictured) with the crash site about 65km northeast of the Whitsunday Islands
Onlookers tried to save the passengers at the Whitsundays crash site while listening to instructions during a phone call with paramedics just after 4pm Wednesday.
The older couple were pronounced dead at the scene after they were recovered from the helicopter.
The three survivors were transported by sea for medical attention and treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The helicopter reportedly crashed into the water 250 metres from the Hardy Reef pontoon.
Whitsunday Air Services confirmed the fatalities in a statement on Wednesday night.
‘Whitsunday Air Services can confirm that a tragic accident involving a Whitsunday Air Services helicopter carrying four passengers and one crew member has occurred at Hardy Reef today,’ the statement said.
In November last year, the Hamilton Island Air – a registered business of Whitsunday Air Services – was involved in a crash off Hamilton Island (stock image)
‘The accident occurred while the helicopter was on final approach for a landing at it’s Hardy Reef Heliport and resulted in two fatalities and two passengers sustaining minor injuries.
‘We are extremely saddened by this incident and our deepest condolences are with the families of all of the passengers. Whitsunday Air Services is continuing to work with the Queensland Police, the ATSB and CASA to assist with their investigations.
‘Whitsunday Air Services will be suspending all operations while a full review process is undertaken. Further information will be released in due course.’
Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics rushed to the scene via emergency helicopter about 6pm.
Whitsunday Mayor Andrew Wilcox told ABC radio the community was devastated by the accident.
‘It will be a sombre day for us in the Whitsundays. My thoughts and prayers at this stage are with the families affected by this,’ he said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament on Thursday the families involved should know ‘how deeply (they) feel their loss’.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) told Daily Mail Australia a team of investigators would travel to the accident location to collect evidence on Thursday morning.
Investigators will interview witnesses, examine available recorded data, review operational records and technical documentation.
Investigators will interview witnesses, examine available recorded data, review operational records and technical documentation