Deaths of five people killed in Anna Bay helicopter crash ruled as “misadventure”

A NSW Coroner has determined that a helicopter crash that killed five people at Anna Bay in 2019 was a “tragic accident”.

Deputy State Coroner Her Honour Magistrate Huntsman determined the deaths of all five people was “misadventure”.

Only two bodies were recovered with the other three technically listed as missing, but the inquest determined they all perished in the crash.

The family and friends of Sydney couple Gregory Miller and Jocelyn Villanueva, pilot David Kerr and his good friends Grant Kuhnemann and Jamie Ogden now have some level of closure. The family and friends who were at the Newcastle Coroners Court this week commented on how pleased they were with the investigation into the accident.

On September 6th 2019, the Bell UH-1H helicopter being flown by Mr Kerr crashed at Anna Bay killing all five people.

The Australian Safety Transport Bureau (ATSB) found the helicopter left Archerfield Airport in Queensland to head to Bankstown.

After a refueling stop at Coffs Harbour, the pilot made contact with Williamtown air traffic control. The radio calls indicated that the helicopter was being affected by turbulence and as a result the pilot was having difficulty maintaining a constant altitude.

The pilot was given clearance to fly between 2,400 and 3,200 ft before the helicopter commenced a left turn and departed the usual coastal route tracking offshore on what the ATSB found appeared to be a direct track to Bankstown.

But, two minutes later Williamtown lost contact with the helicopter after it went into overcast, dark conditions.

Three weeks later on September 25 2019, the wreckage and the bodies of two people were finally found.

The ATSB concluded it was the fading light that was a major factor in the crash, the pilot likely became disoriented and lost control. He was only qualified to fly during the day and wasn’t trained or experienced to fly at night.

Image: NewFM Newsroom/Jarrod Melmeth