"We're going to die today." What it was like onboard during the Sea World helicopter crash.

Elmarie was enjoying a helicopter ride with her husband and two friends o the Gold Coast when she heard a voice over the microphone. 

"On you're left, on your left," they said. 

"I thought it was something beautiful and I looked [on my] left and I saw the [other] helicopter underneath me and I knew we were in serious trouble," Elmarie told 60 Minutes on Sunday night. 

"I actually [said], 'please God help us', and then I heard the explosion."

Watch the moment the two helicopters collided on 60 Minutes. Post continues below. 

Video via 60 Minutes.

Elmarie and her husband, Riaan, as well as her friend Marle and her husband Edward, were four of the nine passengers who survived when two helicopters collided on the Gold Coast last month. 

That day, on Monday January 2, the New Zealand tourists decided to take the helicopter ride on a whim during their Queensland holiday. 

As their helicopter was coming back in to land at Sea World, another took off and collided into them. 

Speaking to 60 Minutes, Elmarie recalled the moment of the collision, which saw the front of their helicopter completely torn off. 


"I [looked] at Marle and I saw the blood running from her and I saw the sea under us and I thought this is it, we're going to die today." 

"I honestly thought this is it," she said with tears, explaining that in the moment she thought of not being able to see her young grandson again.

"I thought... my kids are not seeing me again."

Elmarie and Riaan. Image: 60 Minutes.


Moments before, Edward noticed the other helicopter coming towards them and tried to alert the pilot by tapping him on his arm.

"It's just chaos," he told 60 Minutes. "You don't know how to react in that situation, I knew I had to warn them but deep inside myself I knew it was too late."

"It was just too quick."

Despite the collision, their pilot, Michael James, managed to land their helicopter safely on the sandbank, before nearby bystanders rushed to the scene.

"There was so many people running towards that chopper, just normal people on the beach, people from boats, just normal mateship... it was amazing," said Edward. 

Edward and Marle Swart. Image: 60 Minutes.


Elmarie and Marle, who were sitting in the front seat of the helicopter with the pilot, bore the brunt of the crash, and were rushed to hospital along with their husbands. 

Both women needed surgery to remove thousands of shards of glass and shattered carbon fibre that had lodged in their skin. 

Sadly, four people in the other helicopter - 36-year-old Sydney mum Vanessa Tadros, British newlyweds Ron Hughes, 65, and wife Diane, 57, and 40-year-old chief pilot Ash Jenkinson - lost their lives. 

Vanessa's 10-year-old son, Nicholas, was pulled from the wreckage and rushed to hospital with serious injuries, where he remains today. 

The other two passengers in the second helicopter, 33-year-old Winnie de Silva and her nine-year-old son Leon, also survived. However, they both remain in hospital with extensive injuries.

Looking back, the couple, who have held their own private memorial for the four people who died, said they experience 'mixed emotions' after surviving the crash.


"It's sad you've got mixed emotions," said Elmaire, adding they are acknowledge the "people who passed away that day". 

"It could have been so different."

The couples previously released a joint statement where they thanked their pilot and first responders who came to their aid. 

"Their care and heroism changed our lives," they said. 

"Our pilot, Michael James. You are our hero. You landed the helicopter safely and kept the bystanders and us safe. We are eternally grateful to you."

A month on from the crash, Elmarie told 60 Minutes she's still finding pieces of glass and carbon fibre lodged under her skin. 

"That makes you feel sad... I just want to get that stuff out of my body because it reminds you of the day."

The couples, who have returned back home to New Zealand, still have questions they want answered. 

"You just want the truth... just to make sense of it, you just really want to understand how it happened," said Marle. 

"I know I'll get closure as soon as I know what happened," added Edward.

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: 60 Minutes.