Whitsunday Air Services aircraft that crash-landed in the trees on Whitsunday Island near Chance Bay on Thursday afternoon. There had been 11 people on board; 10 passengers and the pilot. One woman was transported to hospital as a result of the crash.
Whitsunday Air Services aircraft that crash-landed in the trees on Whitsunday Island near Chance Bay on Thursday afternoon. There had been 11 people on board; 10 passengers and the pilot. One woman was transported to hospital as a result of the crash. Contributed

Group rushed to plane crash site to help passengers

WHEN Daniel Meldrum, Mark Collier and Wayne Healey saw a plane crash they didn't think, they just acted.

They were among eight from New South Wales boating around Whitsunday Island to celebrate Mark and his wife Wendy's silver wedding anniversary.

It was the last day of their holiday and they'd anchored at Chance Bay.


All eight had been in the water when the plane crashed about 3.30pm on Thursday.

Mr Meldrum said they'd seen the plane "hit the water" twice before it tried to rise again, but lost sight as it went around a nearby point.

"Next thing we saw (the plane) sort of bank back around into view," he said.

They then heard "crack, crack, crack" as the plan crashed into the trees.

Daniel Meldrum, Mark Collier and Wayne Healey
Daniel Meldrum, Mark Collier and Wayne Healey Contributed

The trio had dropped their gear and rushed to the nearby beach before running barefoot, still in their stinger suits, up the hill. The others had returned to the boat to mayday for help.

Mr Healey said they'd split up running up the hill.

"We kept calling and kept calling... (we) thought the worst when we didn't hear anything," he said.

It was the biggest relief when they heard the pilot say "I'm the pilot, I've got 10 passengers and we're all okay", Mr Healey said.

ANOTHER PLANE CRASH: Three dead after plane crash in Victoria

Mr Collier said they could smell fuel when they reached the plane.

And while they realised the danger he said "we didn't think about that".

"We just wanted to get everyone down the mountain," Mr Collier said.

Mr Healey's wife Michelle was a paramedic and she looked over an injured woman, who her husband had helped carry down the mountain.

"My main concern was to get her down to my wife," Mr Healey said.

All three commended the pilot. "He did as much as he possibly could," Mr Meldrum said.

He'd already freed the passengers by the time the three arrived.

Mr Meldrum's wife Janene said it had been shocking.

"I think we're all still processing what happened... it could have been a lot worse," she said.

"Our first thought when we saw the plane crash (was) there was going to be dead bodies."


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