Local News

Seaplane was rebuilt after fatal crash two decades ago before heartbreakingly claiming six lives

The father of the youngest victim is said to be "unable to physically speak".
richard cousins emma bowden sydney seaplane

The seaplane which devastatingly crashed on New Year’s Eve and claimed six lives was “destroyed” in a fatal crash two decades ago.

The plane was involved in a fatal accident while acting as a crop duster in 1996 and was entirely rebuilt, recertified and owned by other businesses before coming into the hands of Sydney Seaplanes.

The plane failed to rise steeply enough and its win clipped a hillside, killing its sole passenger and “destroying” the aircraft, according to Fairfax Media.

Police dive crews are still trying to recover the wreckage in the Hawkesbury River after the accident killed Richard Cousins, 58, his fiancée Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, 23-year-old Ed and 25-year-old William, all lost their lives – alongside experienced pilot Gareth Morgan – on what should have been the New Year’s Eve experience of a lifetime.

Heather’s father is understood to be so grief-stricken he “is unable to physically speak”.

The British family were on a Christmas holiday to Australia when they boarded the popular “fly-dine” Sydney Seaplane trip from Rose Bay to Cottage Point Inn, previously enjoyed by Pippa Middleton and her new husband on their Australian Honeymoon.

Sydney Seaplanes has suspended all flights indefinitely and released a statement via Facebook, with MD Aaron Shaw saying all at the company were “deeply shocked”.

It is thought that the recently engaged couple had sent out invitations to their wedding just days before the tragedy.

The Sun reports that Cousins’ first wife, Caroline, died of cancer just three years ago, and that before her death she urged him to “find somebody else”.

“He was always very loving. He made my sister very happy,” Caroline’s brother Ian Thorpe told the British tabloid.

“I am extremely proud of him to have had a fantastic relationship with my sister and to have made her so happy until the day she died.”

On his two nephews – who also lost their lives in the crash – he said they were, “wonderful fellas” who were “fabulous, well-mannered and brought up properly”.

Our thoughts are with everybody affected by the tragedy.

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