The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) reports that the pilot who tragically lost his life in the helicopter collision at Sea World had consumed cocaine.

A preliminary investigation conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) revealed that the helicopter pilot involved in a mid-air collision on the Gold Coast had cocaine in his system. However, the level of cocaine was not sufficient to have impacted his flying abilities.

The collision occurred on January 2, 2023, near Sea World, involving two helicopters. One helicopter was returning to a helipad with five passengers after a short scenic flight, while the other helicopter, carrying six passengers, took off a few minutes before 2pm and collided with the first aircraft. The second helicopter crashed onto a sandbar, resulting in the death of the pilot and three passengers, as well as injuring several others.

The ATSB released an interim report to provide an update on the investigation, but formal findings regarding the contributing factors have not been made yet. The autopsy of the deceased pilot, Ashley Jenkinson, revealed no evidence of significant disease. However, a toxicology report indicated the presence of cocaine in his system. The report stated that the cocaine was unlikely to have been consumed within 24 hours of the crash and could have been taken up to four days prior. The concentration of cocaine in Jenkinson’s system was reported to be low, suggesting no impairment of his psychomotor skills.

The final report from the ATSB, which will include analysis, findings, and recommended safety actions, is expected to be completed between July and September 2024. Meanwhile, Sea World Helicopters, the separate business operating the helicopters, has already implemented additional air traffic control measures at the heliport.

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