3 killed in southern Australia helicopter crash

AP News
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Posted: Aug 18, 2011 10:51 PM
3 killed in southern Australia helicopter crash

Three people were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Australia, police said Friday, with a prominent Australian journalist believed to be among the dead.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. said three members of its news crew, including veteran journalist Paul Lockyer, are believed to have died when their chopper crashed Thursday in a remote part of South Australia state.

Lockyer, cameraman John Bean and pilot Gary Ticehurst were working in the area on a story about Lake Eyre, a massive Outback lake, the ABC said.

South Australia police confirmed three people were killed in the accident and said they were investigating the cause of the crash.

A tour guide who had chatted with those on board shortly before they took off saw a large fireball in the distance soon after the helicopter departed, Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Smith said.

The crash site is surrounded by water and boggy land, making access to the area difficult, Smith said. The remoteness of the region was also making it tough to get in touch with investigators on the scene, he said.

"We are not expecting to have any positive news, any positive identification or the full extent of the detail for some time," Smith told reporters in Adelaide.

Lockyer was an award-winning journalist whose career spanned more than 40 years and included assignments in Washington and Asia.

Ticehurst was a well-known media pilot who worked for the ABC for more than 25 years. Bean, a Brisbane-based cameraman, was a 20-year veteran of the ABC who worked throughout Australia, the Pacific and in Washington.

"This has been the longest of nights and we fear it will be the saddest of days," ABC managing director Mark Scott said.