A couple who died in a helicopter crash on Australia’s Gold Coast had arrived in the country days before to visit relatives “after being separated by Covid,” according to their family.
Diane Hughes, 57, and her husband Ron, 65, were killed when two helicopters collided in Queensland on January 2.
The “fun-loving” couple from Neston, Cheshire, had “a zest for life,” their family said in a statement.
They also stated that they were “still in a state of shock” over what had occurred.
According to officials, the fatal crash near Sea World, a popular theme park on the Gold Coast, occurred less than 20 seconds after one helicopter took off from a sandbar and collided with another aircraft landing.
Mr and Mrs Hughes were killed, along with Sydney resident Vanessa Tadros, 36, and 40-year-old Sea World Helicopters pilot Ashley Jenkinson, who was originally from Birmingham.
Three others, including two children, were badly injured and remain in hospital.
Mr and Mrs Hughes, who married in 2022, “arrived last week [to visit] our family on the Gold Coast after being separated by Covid for the last few years,” according to the couple’s relatives.
“We are deeply saddened and still in a state of shock from the events that unfolded on Monday,” they said.
“They were the most generous, loyal, fun-loving couple, who had a zest for life and were loved and adored by everyone they met.
“Tragedies like this happen to ‘other people’ and we are all struggling to come to terms with our loss.
“They leave a huge hole in our family and will be survived by parents, brothers, sons, daughters, and their cheeky grandkids.”
They also thanked “all the first responders, emergency services and Sea World staff for their heroics in trying to save our loved ones”.
“Our thoughts are with everyone impacted and we pray for the recovery of survivors still in hospital,” they added.
An investigation into the cause of the crash has begun, with officials saying they were looking into the situation in the helicopters.
“What we do need to know now is what was occurring inside those two cockpits at the time,” air safety commissioner Angus Mitchell told reporters on Wednesday.