Canterbury wedding helicopter crash: Injured photographer tells helicopter husband ‘totally lost power’

New Zealand

Photographer Rachel Jordan was injured in a helicopter crash in Canterbury on Saturday. Photo/Givealittle

Eric Jordan was able to speak to his wife Rachel moments after the helicopter she was on crashed at Canterbury Golf Course, leaving her with a host of injuries, including spinal injuries and broken bones.

“I told her it was going to be okay and we’d get through it together,” he told the Herald last night.

The helicopter was also carrying the newlyweds in Hanafi and Mahdi Zaghob on their wedding day.

The award-winning photographer was traveling with the couple to do wedding photography when the helicopter they were on went down at Downs Terrace Resort in Windswil, 80km west of Christchurch, on Saturday.

Al-Hanafi underwent surgery on Sunday after sustaining a broken back, foot and legs. Zagob also suffers from a broken vertebral column and was scheduled to undergo surgery yesterday.

Eric said Rachel was worried about breaking her back when they spoke on the phone right after the accident and before emergency services arrived.

I heard a lot of screaming in the background that I assumed it was the bride, groom, and pilot, who were also injured.

Rachel gave her husband’s number to someone at the scene who called for her.

Debris scattered around the wrecked helicopter.  Photo/George Heard
Debris scattered around the wrecked helicopter. Photo/George Heard

“I only had a chance to reassure her while waiting for the rescue team.

“I spoke to her a few words… Then I heard that the ambulance and rescue teams had arrived, so they took her away and I just said goodbye at that moment.

“I think she lost consciousness during part of the accident. She doesn’t remember the exact moment the accident fell, she only remembers what was before and right after it. I’m sure the bride fainted too.”

Rachel had her second surgery yesterday to repair the damage to her feet and ankles.

She has a broken spine, five rib fractures, a ruptured lung, a broken sternum, a broken arm in several places, and broken feet and ankles.

“She told me that she remembers that the engine stopped running at some point, that it completely lost power in mid-air, and it looked like everything was dead.”

The helicopter crashed near a sand trap on the golf course at Downs Terrace Resort in Windustle, Canterbury.  Photo/George Heard
The helicopter crashed near a sand trap on the golf course at Downs Terrace Resort in Windustle, Canterbury. Photo/George Heard

Eric said that Rachel had an extreme fear of flying and was nervous about flying south from Northland for the wedding.

The couple moved to New Zealand from the United States in 2015 to live in Northland.

“She was really afraid to get on a plane before she went to the wedding. She had to fly from the Bay of Islands to Christchurch, so she was afraid about that flight.

“But it turns out that the helicopter was the biggest problem.”

Eric has been asked to “settle for a long trip,” and Rachel is expected to stay in the hospital for three months.

He says he just tries to keep it as positive as possible.

“I know a lot of the healing process depends on having hope, so I’m just trying to give her that. That’s all I can do, [giving] She has as much hope as possible at the moment.”

small giveaway page set up to raise funds to support Rachel’s recovery.

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