The founder of a West Australian seaplane tour company died when his R44 crashed in the Kimberley region on Saturday afternoon.
Troy Thomas’ 12-year-old daughter Mia, also on board, survived but her friend of the same age died.
Another 24-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition.
Pilot Thomas, 40, set up Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures in 2006 before selling it last year to tourism group Journey Beyond. However, he was retained for one year as a manager.
Few details are known about the nature of the incident, but West Kimberley Inspector Gene Pears told Daily Mail Australia that it was lucky the R44 didn’t collide with a building as it went down.
“There were many witnesses to the crash, we’re interviewing witnesses at the moment but this would be really tragic here in a small community so many people will be affected, many people will be struggling,” he said.
“To the people who responded, they responded really quickly to a really dangerous situation and did so without fear for their own safety. The scene has now been secured and locked down until the ATSB can conduct their investigation.”
The group had been on their way to a family holiday when the helicopter crashed shortly after take-off.
Thomas’ friend Karl Langdon, a sports commentator, had breakfast with the pilot hours before his death.
In a tribute on Sunday, he wrote, “To Sophie, the kids and whole Thomas clan I’m mourning with you today. I still cannot believe what has happened. We lost an inspiring father, brother, son and friend yesterday.
“Troy you did so much with your life, I met you as a teenager in Mandurah and at 19 you were chartering you own boat Rare Breed.
“You have taken me on many breathtaking adventures, some trips we shared to remote parts of our state and territory that needs to be seen to be believed.
“You were a leader in your field and we will continue that legacy and we will look after your family.
“I’m glad I shared breakfast with you yesterday, I’m glad I got to stay with you the last couple of days and we got to chat, reflect and enjoy each other’s company I will remember the time we spent together forever.
“Love you mate, Rest In Peace.”
The ATSB is investigating the crash and a report will be prepared for the coroner.
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