"You have to be strong." The moment Nicholas was told his mum didn't survive the Sea World helicopter crash.

"Have fun, I'll see when you get back down." 

Those were the last words Simon Tadros said to his wife Vanessa and his son Nicholas before they boarded a helicopter joy ride at Sea World.

That day, on Monday January 2, the Sydney family were holidaying on the Gold Coast when 10-year-old Nicholas asked if he could go on the helicopter after spotting the sales booth. 

Before the ride, Simon remembers telling his wife, "it's amazing how quick they turn over these helicopters". 

"My wife just turned around to me and said, 'babe, I'm sure they know what they're doing'," he told A Current Affair in an emotional interview on Monday night. 

"I said yeah of course." 

As the helicopter carrying Vanessa and Nicholas was taking off, another collided into them, leaving the 36-year-old dead and her son critically injured. 

Simon didn't see the moment the two helicopters collided, but he remembers hearing "a big bang". 

"I heard a propeller just whistling… and by the time I quickly jumped up to go look at what was going on, there was one helicopter smashing the ground and the other helicopter was just landing," he explained. 

Not knowing which helicopter his wife and son were in, he waited for two to three hours "holding onto hope" that their helicopter was the one that landed safely. 

Unfortunately, that was not the case and detectives later approached Simon to ask for a photo of his wife and son.

Shortly after, they returned and broke the news.

"They came back to me and said, 'I'm sorry, your wife is one of the people that is deceased'," he shared, explaining detectives told him his son had regained consciousness and was going to be flown to hospital.


"They were the worst words I've ever heard in my life."

Three others in their helicopter - British newlyweds Ron Hughes, 65, and wife Diane, 57, and 40-year-old chief pilot Ash Jenkinson - also lost their lives. 

Image: Channel Nine.


Back in hospital, doctors told Simon they weren't sure if his son, who was placed in an induced coma, would survive.

When he finally woke up, Simon had to break the news to Nicholas that his mum didn't make it. 

"I said, 'listen, mummy had to go to Jesus' and he just looked at me and he goes… 'oh no, is mum dead?' I said, 'yes baby boy, mum passed away' and he just… turned his head and closed his eyes," Tadros told A Current Affair host Allison Langdon.

When his son asked what Vanessa's last words were, he told him, "Mummy said you have to be strong, you have to be happy and you have to get better. That's what mummy wants from you."

Looking back, Simon said it's a "miracle" his son survived after suffering injuries to most of his body. 

"He broke nearly everything from top to bottom, you know, his arms, his legs, his sternum, his hips, his thighs, his legs, his arms, ribs, lungs collapsing," he said.

"He even inhaled some of the aviation fuel that caused problems for his lungs as well, his kidneys are still not functioning, so he's on a dialysis machine."

On Monday, it was confirmed Nicholas will lose his right foot despite the efforts of medical staff.

Despite his injuries, Simon said his son continues to fight to survive every day. 


"He said I’m not going to give up, Dad. I’m not going to leave you alone."

Image: Channel Nine.

Over a month on, Simon said he hasn't had a chance to properly grieve his wife, having only left Nicholas' bedside to attender her funeral and to speak to Langdon for the interview. 

"It’s been hard, it’s a daily struggle... I don’t leave his bedside until 12[or] one in the morning," he shared. 


"Even leaving to go lay my wife to rest was, that was something… I know it had to be done."

Simon said it's also been a lot for Simon to grieve his mother as he recovers in hospital.

"The day will come (where) my son and I will both be able to grieve her properly and I'll do that with my son."

Nicholas is now awake and "aware of everything" however, "his mental state of mind, he’s not in a good place, but he’s not giving up".

As he continues to concentrate on his son's recovery, Simon says the financial stress that comes with it is a "big worry".

"All the rehab and everything Nicholas is going to need for the rest of his life… it’s definitely a financial worry."

Like other survivors, Simon said it's "vital" for him to understand what happened that January day.

"It's an accident that shouldn't have happened." 

"It doesn't make sense. It's something that I want to get the answers for and I will get the answers in time." 

The crash is currently being investigated by Queensland Police and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. However, a final verdict isn’t expected until 2024. 

Feature Image: Channel Nine.