The “generous” and “fiercely intelligent” co-founder and managing director of a financial solutions company has been identified as the fifth victim of a helicopter crash north of Melbourne.
- Nicholas Vasudeva’s employer said he was “well loved by all his colleagues”
- All five victims of the helicopter crash have now been identified
- The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the crash
First Ag Capital said in a statement that Nicholas Vasudeva was on his way to conduct a routine property inspection with colleagues when the helicopter crashed.
“Nicholas was an inspiring individual, with a storied career in both Australia and the United Kingdom at a number of law firms and financial institutions,” the statement read.
“He was a true gentleman with a great sense of humour who was well loved by all his colleagues, associates and family, and will be missed dearly.”
The company expressed condolences to Mr Vasudeva’s wife and three children.
Two helicopters that were part of the same private charter were flying north from Melbourne’s CBD over Mount Disappointment on Thursday when one disappeared just after 9am.
Those who died included one female and three male passengers aged between 50 and 73, and the 32-year-old male pilot.
In addition to his role at First Ag Capital, Mr Vasudeva was also a director of the not-for-profit Integrated Specialist Healthcare Education and Research Foundation.
Anand Deva, another of the organisation’s directors, described Mr Vasudeva as “generous, kind, supportive, fiercely intelligent and ready to provide support to those around him and those in need”.
“I had always thought that we would look back together, one day, and marvel at what we managed to achieve, share our ‘war’ stories and relive the many adventures along the way as we sat side-by-side in the nursing home,” he said.
“Sadly, this will never be.”
Weather impeding operation at crash site
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating the crash, with the assistance of police.
It could take as long as eight weeks for investigators to deliver a preliminary report into the accident.
Gary Doorbar, unit controller of Whittlesea VICSES, said operations at the site were expected to take another few days due to poor weather.
“Every day has been different, it’s been raining, it’s been foggy, it’s been warm,” he said.
Mr Doorbar said the rugged terrain of the mountain meant it took “a day and a bit” to get to the crash site.
“The track that took us to the aircraft hadn’t been looked after since 2009, when the fires came through.”
He said it took two bulldozers and an excavator to clear the track.
Tributes paid to crash victims
Meat industry leader Paul Troja was identified as the 73-year-old victim of the crash.
The chairman of Radford Meats at Warragul is being remembered for his long and accomplished career within the industry.
The family of the helicopter’s pilot, 32-year-old Cheltenham man Dean Neal, said they were “shocked and distressed” at the loss of their son.
They said their “broken hearts go to the families and friends of those who were flying with him” and said they understood their “unspeakable loss”.
Blockchain company AXIchain confirmed its CEO Linda Woodford and finance consultant Ian Perry were also killed in the crash.
AXIchain said the pair was travelling to regional Victoria to visit clients.
“Ian was a respected member of the agricultural industry and a committed family man and will be sorely missed by all that knew him,” a spokesperson for the company said.
“Linda was a driven visionary and an eternal optimist and will be deeply missed by all that knew her.”
Ms Woodford’s brother, Doug, said his sister was “at the top of her game” when she died.
“She was the glue in our family, she was the one who made sure everyone was okay.”
Aviation industry ‘hurting’ after fatal crash
The helicopter that crashed was one of two in a charter convoy being run by Microflite.
Paul Tyrrell from the Australian Helicopter Industry Association said it was too early to say if the industry would need to make any changes in the wake of the crash.
He said the sector would wait for the outcome of the investigation by the ATSB before responding.
“It’s a tragedy and the whole industry is feeling for the people involved in this incident,” Mr Tyrrell said.
“It’s a tight-knit community the aviation community, it’s a family if you like, and people are hurting — everybody involved.”
Mr Tyrrell said it was not clear what may have caused the crash but pilots in the industry are trained to deal with all conditions.
“Generally it’s a very safe industry. The training is very high quality, it’s international standard training,” he said.
“I guess in life there’s risks in every profession and we mitigate the risks in helicopters and in aviation in general through our training and our preparation for the flight.”