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Australia'Halfway there': Daughter tells of father's last text message as police suspend search

06:10  10 september  2019
06:10  10 september  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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'Halfway there': Daughter tells of father's last text message as police suspend search© Facebook Sydney couple Jocelyn Villanueva and Gregory Miller are feared dead.

The daughter of a man feared dead has described the text she received from him just an hour before the helicopter he was aboard plunged into waters off Newcastle.

In an Instagram tribute, the daughter of Brisbane dad of two Jamie Ogden has told how her father sent a photo to her, stating "halfway there, look at the beautiful red sun" while refuelling in Coffs Harbour. The flight, which was bound for Bankstown from Brisbane, dropped off the radar off Anna Bay on Friday night about 6.30pm.

'Halfway there': Daughter tells of father's last text message as police suspend search© Supplied Pilot David Kerr, left, and his friends, Grant Kuhnemann, top, and Jamie Ogden are among the five feared dead.

"You were so excited for that helicopter trip," she wrote. "Who would've thought that an hour after that text you were involved in the most horrific accident."

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Police believe Mr Ogden was a passenger alongside Picnic Point couple Jocelyn Villanueva and Gregory Miller and fellow Queenslander Grant Kuhnemann.

Brisbane Helicopters owner and experienced pilot David Kerr is believed to have been flying the Bell UH1 helicopter.  Police said on Tuesday they have suspended the search due to adverse weather conditions, but plan to send police divers out on Thursday when conditions clear.

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Police believe the helicopter plunged due to poor conditions with low visibility, high winds and dust in the air. They are yet to declare the five onboard as dead.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority said they are no longer involved and have passed the search onto police.

Friend Darren Hudson said he served in the army alongside Gregory Miller in East Timor in 2000. "From what I know they were relocating to Huey [UH1 helicopter] to Bankstown to conduct warbird joy flights around the Sydney area," he said.

"Greg's family are from Brisbane so I think he was up there seeing them and decided to come back in the Huey."

Mr Hudson also said Mr Miller was promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer during his time. The Australia Defence Force confirmed on Saturday night he was still an active member of the ADF. Mr Kerr had also flown in the Royal Australian Navy, friends said.

A family member of Mr Ogden's said the group were "all friends" simply flying to Bankstown for "a breakaway".

Mr Ogden's father, Graham Ogden, told Nine News the group "were full of life, the lot of them". "Just one look at the sea out there, you can nearly expect what could have happened. It would have been a great weekend away, but it didn’t turn out that way," he said.

Most of the wreckage was spotted on Saturday, with the helicopter's tail rotor found by water police about 8.45am. A Westpac rescue helicopter spotted the main airframe less than an hour later, roughly eight kilometres south of Fingal Bay.

NSW Police are seeking out witnesses who could have seen the aircraft in distress.

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