Businessman thought to be among three dead in copter crash

A Staffordshire businessman is believed to be among three people killed when a helicopter crashed in heavy mist on Saturday.

Two men and a woman died when the ex-military Gazelle helicopter came down near Langley Hill Farm in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.

Crash investigators spent yesterday sifting through the wreckage.

Gloucestershire police said the victims were unlikely to be formally identified until a post mortem later this week.

All of those who died were from the Midlands, police said. The helicopter was co-owned and based in Baxterley, Warwickshire.

Previous part-owner of the Gazelle, Christopher Evans, had recently sold his share in the aircraft, but it was still based at a paddock near his home.

He was not available for comment, but spoke to friend and fellow aircraft enthusiast Ken Broomfield after the crash.

Mr Broomfield said: “He said he had a call from the East Midlands police helicopter department because when an aircraft goes missing a search and rescue situation is instigated. He just said that the aircraft had crashed.”

Kevin Dickens, spokesman for Great Western Ambulance Service, said no mayday call was received.

“It was just a wreck of mangled metal. It was obviously a tragic scene. People’s loved ones have been killed,” he said.

The Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) said the helicopter was flying from Stratford-on-Avon and was due to land at Yeovilton, Somerset.

An AAIB spokeswoman added: “The wreckage of the helicopter will be transported to the AAIB’s facility at Farnborough, Hampshire for further examination.”

Residents in Winchcombe reacted with shock to the crash. A woman living in an adjoining farm said the helicopter came down in heavy mist.

She said: “It’s an awful tragedy and it’s amazing we didn’t see or hear it come down.

“My neighbour, Gill, came across the wreckage as she put out her animals. It was on fire and was still burning after emergency services arrived.”