A four-year-old boy has been left with his mother dead and his father injured after their helicopter slammed into a mountain peak.
The couple had been on a pleasure trip around Russia’s Far East when the Robinson R44 they were on board inexplicably hit a rocky outcrop.
Russia’s Emergencies Ministry told local media that the chopper had “hit a cliff and then descended abruptly”.
The chopper crash-landed on Chekhov Peak on Sakhalin island on 17th February, killing pilot Dmitry P. and photographer Daria Martynenko, 34, instantly.
Her husband – 39-year-old Andrey Martynenko – was pulled alive from the wreckage by rescuers.
At the time of reporting, he remained in hospital in a “moderate” condition and was due to undergo surgery for a neck injury.
The helicopter had taken off from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk at 3.05pm but vanished from the radar at 4.02pm.
A short while later, a distress signal was received via satellite.
Investigators have since seized samples from the wreckage for analysis.
At the time of reporting, they were considering two lines of investigation – that of pilot error and that of a technical malfunction.
Local media reported that the couple had gone on holiday to the island of Sakhalin to celebrate Daria’s birthday on 15th February.
The two were keen travellers and loved going on trips around Russia, particularly hiking trips in the mountains.
They had gone to Sakhalin with their four-year-old son, who did not join them for the ill-fated helicopter trip and remained in the hotel with a babysitter.
He is currently being looked after by a psychologist, local media reported.
The Far East Transport Prosecutor’s Office has said that it will press charges if it finds evidence of non-compliance with flight safety legislation.
In a statement, it said: “On 17th February 2023, communication with a Robinson R44 helicopter belonging to an entrepreneur, following the route Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – Chekhov Peak – Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, was interrupted.
“According to preliminary data, a destroyed aircraft hull was discovered during the search and rescue operation.
“The Sakhalin Transport Prosecutor’s Office is checking compliance with the requirements of the flight safety legislation.
“Based on its results, if there are grounds, exhaustive prosecutorial response measures will be taken.”
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Story By: William McGee, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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