WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
A survivor of the Sea World helicopter tragedy has described the terrifying moment two choppers collided and killed four people.
Elmarie Steenberg, a New Zealand tourist, was one of nine passengers who survived the tragic crash on the Gold Coast on January 2.
Vanessa Tadros, 36, British newlyweds Ron Hughes, 65, and wife Diane, 57, and chief pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40, were not so fortunate and died.
Ms Steenberg has opened up on the horrifying moment she felt like she was going to die with her explosive account to be aired on 60 Minutes on Sunday night.
Elmarie Steenberg (right) closed her eyes before the fatal impact of the two choppers colliding. When she opened them the first thing she saw was her friend Marle Swart covered in blood
Ms Steenberg (left) and Ms Swart (right) needed surgery to remove thousands of shards of glass and carbon fibre shattered and that lodged in their skin
She remembered looking down and seeing another helicopter underneath the one carrying her.
Ms Steenberg was riding in the helicopter with her husband Riaan and Kiwi couple Edward and Marle Stewart.
She said she braced herself and prayed to God to ‘please help us’ before the helicopters collided and a loud explosion followed.
Ms Steenberg hid her face and then opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was blood running from Ms Swart’s body.
Then she saw sea flash past as their chopper spun madly.
‘I was like, “Oh, we are going to die today”,’ Ms Steenberg said.
Ms Swart and Ms Steenberg suffered gruesome injuries, the worst of anyone in their chopper.
Both needed surgery to remove thousands of shards of glass and shattered carbon fibre that had lodged in their skin.
Their helicopter spun twice and its pilot somehow landed on a sandbank.
But the dread remained when people around her shouted ‘It’s going to blow’.
Right in front of them the other helicopter crash-landed with fatal consequences.
Its pilot, Ash Jenkinson, died, along with three of passengers; British newlyweds Diane and Ronald Hughes, and Sydney mum Vanessa Tadros.
Elmarie Steenberg and Marle Swart as they recovered in hospital following the devastating crash
Moments before Kiwi couples the Swarts and the Steenbergs took a chance on a joyride above Sea World in a helicopter. Pictured, Riian Steenberg (front right), Elmarie Steenberg (second from right), Marle Swart (beside Ms Steenberg) and Edward Swart (behind the two women)
Her 10 year old boy Nicholas Tadros survived, but remains in hospital. He was so badly hurt he needed six surgeries in one day and spent several more days on life support.
The other two survivors from the chopper that crashed, Winnie de Silva, 33, and her son Leon, 9, remain in hospital with extensive injuries.
The Steenbergs and the Swarts decided on a whim to visit Sea World, then made another snap decision, to join a five minute helicopter ride above the theme park.
As they were coming into land, another helicopter lifted off close by. It was the passengers who realised the two choppers were about to collide.
Queensland Police and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are examining the crash but a final verdict on what caused it isn’t expected until 2024.
The operator of both helicopters, Sea World Helicopters – which is not owned by the theme park– has suspended flights while investigations take place.