Paramedic who died in RAK helicopter crash 'was single father', as tributes paid to crew
Mark Roxburgh was one of four crewmen who lost their lives when their aircraft crashed on Jebel Jais
A flight paramedic who died in a helicopter crash in Ras Al Khaimah was a single father supporting a young child, it has emerged.
Mark Roxburgh was one of four people who died on Saturday after the helicopter they were travelling in spun out of control before crashing into the side of Jebel Jais mountain.
Pilots Saqr Saeed Mohamed Abdullah Al Yamahi and Hameed Mohamed Obaid Al Zaabi, along with navigator Jasim Abdullah Ali Tunaiji also died in the incident, which took place at 5.50pm.
According to a post on Facebook, South African Mr Roxburgh - a critical care paramedic - described himself as a "single dad" to a young child.
He had been working in the Middle East for the past eight years, first in Qatar, before moving to the UAE in 2015 to join Abu Dhabi Aviation as a search and rescue winchman and paramedic in 2015.
“As long as I can remember my dad taught me about self-sacrifice in the service of those in need,” he wrote on his profile page.
Abu Dhabi Aviation provides support to the Armed Forces, operating a fleet of seven AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters, equipped for search and rescue (SAR) operations.
Each SAR helicopter comprises a crew of four: two pilots, a winch operator and a rescue crewman/paramedic, according to the website of Abu Dhabi Aviation. The latter declined to comment.
UAE residents took to social media to pay tribute to the crew, offering condolences to families of the deceased with many dubbing the victims "martyrs" and "heroes" as they passed away while serving their country.
"Our heartfelt condolences go to the families of the faithful crew members of the plane that crashed in Ras Al Khaimah,” said Emirati Monthir Al Muzaki on Twitter.
“We ask God to grant [the martyrs] who passed away while on a mission for the National Search and Rescue Centre on Saturday for his mercy and forgiveness and to give their families and loved ones strength,” said another user.
In Islam, a person who passes away while performing his duty is considered a martyr.
It is not clear why the crew was in the area at the time of the incident.
It has been widely reported the helicopter spun out of control after clipping the world’s longest zipline on Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak.
The crash was witnessed by 30-year-old Monday Precious from Nigeria.
"The helicopter hit the zipline and spun around and then there was a massive boom," he said. "There was fire everywhere and the emergency services were here within 10 minutes."
He said flames from the crash were so intense that it took 25 minutes for emergency services to put the blaze out.
"There were about 20 people watching and they could not believe what they were seeing," he said. "Everyone was shocked. A lot of people were taking videos as well."
On Sunday, only two of the three lines that form the zipline could be seen, suggesting one had been damaged in the accident or taken down.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said it could not discuss the case until the investigation is completed.
Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, ordered the investigation, according to state news agency, Wam.
Toroverde Ras Al Khaimah, which operates the zipline, posted a statement on its website.
“Toroverde Ras Al Khaimah regrets to report that there has been a very serious incident on the Mountain," it said.
"Jebel Jais Mountain Park and access road have been closed until further notice, in order to give the Emergency services the access they need.
“All the World's Longest Zipline's flights are cancelled until further notice and we will be in direct contact with all our customers by phone immediately. Thank you for your understanding.”
The 2.83-kilometre long Jebel Jais zipline became the world’s longest when it opened in February of this year, surpassing the 2.5km-long Monster Zipline in Puerto Rico. Riders fly between 120 to 150 kilometres per hour, 1,680 metres above sea level.
Designed to accommodate a new set of riders every five minutes, the zipline is open from 9am to 5pm every day except Monday and Tuesday.
The zipline had been closed for more than half an hour when the crash occurred.
* Additional reporting Salam Al Amir and Patrick Ryan
Updated: December 30, 2018 09:18 PM