Crash survivor's first words out of coma

Miracle moment ‘beautiful brave boy’ says his first words as he wakes from a coma after horror chopper crash – and gives his worried mother a beaming smile and thumbs up from hospital bed

  •  Leon de Silva was on doomed chopper which crashed on Monday
  • He survived but was put into induced coma with a fractured skull
  • Injured mother Winnie has now revealed he’s woken from coma
  • He smiled and gave her thumbs up on video call and said ‘My leg’

The survivor of a horrifying helicopter crash on the Gold Coast that killed four has revealed the first words her son said to her after he woke from a coma in hospital.

Winnie De Silva and her nine-year-old son Leon were on board one of the Sea World helicopters when it collided with another chopper on January 2, sending it hurtling to the sandbank below.

Four people – pilot Ash Jenkinson, British newlyweds Diane and Ron Hughes and Sydney woman Vanessa Tadros – were killed in the crash.

Ms De Silva, her son and Ms Tadros’ 10-year-old son Nicholas were critically injured and rushed to hospital where Leon was put in an induced coma.

Now he has woken from the coma and gave his mother Winnie, from Geelong, Victoria, the thumbs up despite still being in severe pain. 

She revealed his first words after the terror ordeal were: ‘My leg…’

Winnie Ms De Silva (pictured with her son) revealed Leon’s first words out of his coma were ‘My leg’ as he continued to recover in Brisbane Children’s Hospital.

Leon (pictured) has a fractured skull and was in an induced coma

In a statement penned from her bed at Gold Coast University Hospital, Ms De Silva thanked people for their ‘kind thoughts and healing prayers’ for herself and her son.

‘They are helping me stay positive that Leon and I will get through this,’ Ms De Silva said.

Ms De Silva revealed her son had woken from his coma and she spoke with him at Brisbane Children’s Hospital over video call.

‘He gave me a ‘thumbs up’ and one of his big, beautiful smiles,’ she said.

‘Today he spoke two words – ‘my leg’ – which gives me hope that he is getting stronger each day.

Winnie De Silva (pictured) thanked the public for their ‘kind thoughts and healing prayers’ in a statement penned from her bed at Gold Coast University Hospital

‘With more surgery scheduled for me next week, my complete focus is on getting better so that within the next couple of weeks I can be with Leon and support his recovery.

‘I can’t wait to hug my beautiful, brave boy!’

The De Silva family, including Winnie’s husband Neil, had decided to splurge on the helicopter ride during their holiday from Geelong West, in Victoria.

Mr De Silva was not on board the helicopter with his wife and son when he watched it lift off from the helipad before colliding with the blades of a second landing helicopter.

Winnie De Silva and her son were rushed to hospital after the deadly helicopter crash

Two other holidaying couples from Auckland – Elmarie and Riaan Steenberg and Edward and Marle Swart – were on board the other helicopter which managed to land safely.

Tributes have continued to pour out for the four victims, with a GoFundMe for the De Silva family raising more than $60,000.

‘The generosity of people has been amazing, and I can’t thank you enough,’ Ms De Silva said.

‘More importantly, I continue to pray for the recovery of young Nicholas, who was seated near me in the helicopter, and offer my heartfelt condolences to the families of the other passengers. It is an unthinkable and difficult time for us all.’

Four people – pilot Ash Jenkinson, British newlyweds Diane and Ron Hughes and Sydney woman Vanessa Tadros – were killed in the crash 

The shocking airborne tragedy is still being combed over by investigators, who may not have a verdict until mid-2024.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said the investigation’s initial evidence collection phase would last about 6-8 weeks.

‘A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation,’ Commissioner Mitchell said.

‘However, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.’

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