In the heart of Sydney today Saturday, a helicopter crashed through the roof of a three storey office block, killing all three people aboard.
In the heart of Sydney today Saturday, a helicopter crashed through the roof of a three storey office block, killing all three people aboard. The helicopter was on charter to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and two of those killed were Australian Broadcasting Commission employees. They were Frank Parnell, aged 41, the father of four children -- a television cine-cameraman; and Miss Patricia Ludford, an Assistant Film Producer. Parnell and Miss Ludford were taking the final shots of a documentary film when the crash occurred. The pilot, J.W. Riley, aged 43, the father of four children, also died in the crash. The helicopter was flying across Sydney Harbour towards Circular Quay when its tail plane apparently began breaking up. It headed towards the A.M.P. INSURANCE building but veered away when only yards from a group of sightseers on the roof. The aircraft then spun wildly out of control, struck a corner of the new Goldfield's House skyscraper and plunged two hundred feet onto a building below. The force of the impact carried it through the roof of the offices of F.H. Stephens Propriety Limited in the Commercial Banking Company Building. A doctor said Riley, Parnell and Miss Ludford were killed on impact when the helicopter crashed through the galvanised iron roof.
The force of the crash left a hole about 15-feet square and filled the third floor of the office building with a tangled mass of wreckage.
Many people witnessed the crash and within minutes a large crowd had gathered outside the Commercial Banking Company's building. The force of the crash exploded some windows of the building and glass littered the street. The crash also set off a sprinkler system in the building thus averting the danger of fire. However, firemen were quickly at the scene, and poured water through the upper floor windows of the building. Pieces of the helicopter's rotor blades were found in the street outside.
Frank Parnell's film magazine and camera were recovered from the wreckage. Parnell and Miss Ludford recently finished shooting a documentary film on shearing which has been entered in the Documentary Section of the Cannes Film Festival. Miss Ludford, aged 26, came from England, and had been working for about two years as an assistant Film Producer/Director for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. She recently became engaged and had planned to marry early next year. Mr. Parnell, aged 40, was the father of four children and his widow is expecting another child soon. The wreckage of the helicopter is lying beside the switchboard of F.H. Stephens proprietary Limited in the Commercial Banking Company Building. Had it not been weekend the building would have been filled with office workers. The helicopter crashed only a matter of yards from an adjoining building where more than two-hundred children were attending a Christmas party.