Police officer’s son among four feared dead in Whitsunday crash

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NSW Premier Chris Minns has confirmed the son of a distinguished and long-serving police officer is among one of four Defence personnel missing, and now feared dead, in the Whitsunday Island helicopter crash on Friday.

Fears are mounting that the four helicopter crew members on the MRH-90 Taipan are unlikely to still be alive.

The search for missing aircrew continues after a Defence helicopter crashed into waters near Hamilton Island, QueenslandCredit: Nine News

On Sunday morning, Channel Nine reported that the fuselage of the helicopter was among the dozens of pieces of debris that had been pulled from the water and loaded onto a barge before they were transported back to land.

Minns said the family “must be hurting this morning”. He said the family had given so much to the people of Australia with their service to the NSW Police and the Australian Defence Force.

“I can only imagine what they’re going through today. It’s just devastating,” he told Sky News.

Defence officials confirmed on Saturday night that the helicopter’s crew were members of the army’s 6th Aviation Regiment based in Holsworthy, Sydney.

Debris is removed from the crash site.Credit: Nine News

The federal government has launched an investigation into the cause of the helicopter crash – Australia’s worst peacetime military accident in almost 20 years.

Australia and the United States’ most senior defence and foreign policy officials expressed their dismay over the horror accident, which has revived longstanding concerns about the technical problems that have plagued the MRH-90 Taipan, the aircraft involved in the crash.

Search for missing aircrew continues after Australian Army helicopter crashed into watersCredit: Nine News

Defence Minister Richard Marles and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin will appear together on Sunday at the Talisman Sabre exercises in Townsville. After being paused on Saturday following the crash, the exercises have resumed in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The entire MH-90 Taipan fleet, however, remains grounded.

Channel Nine, the owner of The Sydney Morning Herald, reported that about 800 defence and emergency services personnel have been scouring the site of the crash, near Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays, since 10.30pm on Friday.

Former Australian Army Colonel Professor John Blaxland told Channel Nine’s Weekend Today program that he had grave fears for those onboard.

“So there’s not much fresh news at hand unfortunately,” he said. “And that’s a really bad indicator for the fact that we’re probably looking at not being able to recover anybody alive.

“Helicopters are really dangerous aircraft because they are inherently unstable. They rely on the rear rotor to actually maintain the stability of an incredibly dangerous spinning four blades at the top,” he said.

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