A barramundi farm worker has detailed how he and his colleagues rescued five people from a helicopter wreckage off Cone Bay this morning.
It is understood the people onboard the helicopter were carrying out survey work when the pilot was forced to make an emergency water landing.
Workers from the nearby Marine Produce Australia barramundi farm saw the crash landing and managed to rescue all five people onboard.
MPA marine farming manager Jamie Bester said he knew something was wrong when he saw the helicopter overhead. “
We heard the chopper coming in, so you kind of raise your eyes to see where it is,” he said.
“We knew it was coming down quicker than normal, it just looked unusual. “It got pretty obvious, pretty fast that something had gone wrong and it was an emergency landing.
“They were quite high when it started so they hit the water reasonably hard and the chopper flipped upside down, into the water.”
Mr Bester said it was lucky the helicopter crashed so close to the farm.
“We immediately responded. We headed out in the dive boat, which is our fastest boat, thinking they were all in the water,” he said.
“The guys were in their dive gear ready to dive, but when we got there they’d already got themselves out of the helicopter and were trying to climb up on it.
“We’ve got a dive boat that we run out here and we train our divers for emergencies. Everything went really well.
“There’s no one for miles, so they were pretty lucky that it happened here. If you were going to crash, you’d probably want to do it here.”
The pilot and four passengers onboard the helicopter were taken back to land then flown to Derby with minor injuries.
The helicopter has been secured for examination.
A spokesman for KAS helicopters, the company that owns the helicopter, said an unknown malfunction forced the pilot to make an emergency landing on approach to Turtle Island.
“The pilot subsequently deployed the emergency floats and made an emergency landing into the water just short of the island,” he said.
“The four passengers onboard, along with the pilot, all escaped with no injuries with the assistance from the staff at the Cone Bay Barramundi Farm, who were on the scene within minutes.
“The passengers and staff commended the pilot who performed a text book emergency landing.”
He said KAS Helicopters would continue to work closely with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Cone Bay is located in the Buccaneer Archipelago, about 100km north of Derby.
Liam Croy The West Australian June 8, 2013, 11:16 am