Harrowing final text sent to SeaWorld chopper crash pilot as pals pay tribute

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    Friends of pilot Ash Jenkinson, who was one of four people killed in a helicopter crash on Australia’s Gold Coast, were desperately messaging him in the moments after the accident.

    Ash was flying an EC130 helicopter, which belonged to the Sea World theme park, when it collided with another chopper in mid-air.

    Authorities said one helicopter with seven people on board was taking off just as another helicopter carrying six people was landing.

    READ MORE: Brit dead in Sea World helicopter crash as pals vow to tell son 'daddy was hero'

    As news of the accident broke on social media, friends of the 40-year-old pilot, who was originally from Birmingham in the West Midlands, tried to check that he was okay – only to learn the worst.

    One of Ash’s closest mates, Ritchie Gregg, told how he tried to contact Ash when he heard from another of their mates via social media that there had been a crash.

    He texted Ash, asking “hope that wasn't you?”

    “I heard at ten past two,” he said. “So I sent the message and was waiting for an answer”.

    He says that when Ash and his wife welcomed their son Kaiden in September least year Ash, known to his mates as Jenko, “was was the most excited dad”.

    • Four dead after helicopters collide in mid-air crash with 'debris flying everywhere'

    And now Kosha is “very silent,” Ritchie said, “she's in shock”. The couple only married in October, he added.

    “Ash had the biggest heart and was the happiest guy. When he'd finished work flying he'd be straight home to see his boy. Family was his biggest thing”.

    Ash was “a top guy, top gun and the best dad,” he said.

    Another friend of Ash’s, Andy Taylor, says he learned about the horrific accident via social media.

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    “I tried to ring Ash straight away,” he told Sunrise. “At first, the phone was dead and then went to the voicemail”.

    As was “a big guy with a big heart,” Andy added, who did a lot of charity work and flew a rescue helicopter during the flood crisis in new South Wales last year.

    “He is the best of the best,” he concluded. “I don't know what else to say…”

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