British tourist Jack Fenton died in a horrific accident Monday evening, when he allegedly walked into the spinning tail rotor blade of a rented private helicopter while on vacation in Greece. Authorities and the helicopter company’s staff all placed the blame on Fenton, but his friends and fellow travelers are now disputing that narrative.
Greek police arrested two ground technicians and the pilot of the helicopter immediately after the grisly incident, charging them with manslaughter, but all were eventually released. Officials claimed Fenton may have been attempting to take a selfie when he walked toward the helicopter after disembarking, leading to him being struck by the tail rotor blade. Those in custody vehemently denied any wrongdoing, according to the (UK) Times:
Investigators suggested that Fenton acted recklessly after disembarking the helicopter, returning without an escort to the tarmac, where the aircraft was still running.
Ioannis Kandyllis, the president of Greece’s committee for aviation accidents, said: “All four passengers had disembarked and were escorted to a private lounge awaiting a private flight for London. But as they were in the lounge the victim broke away and returned to the tarmac, rushing to the helicopter at a fast pace.“
Now, two of Fenton’s friends, as well as his younger sister, dispute this official account. All three rode in the same helicopter as Fenton, and say they were never escorted to a private lounge or told what to do after disembarking from the helicopter. Fenton’s sister dismisses the selfie explanation as “rubbish.” From the Daily Mail:
Greek authorities yesterday suggested the 22-year-old former public schoolboy rushed towards the spinning tail rotor of the helicopter in Athens to take a selfie and was killed instantly.
But his younger sister Daisy, 20, denied the reports as “rubbish,” saying her brother was “cautious and wary,” but had not been properly briefed by pilot Christos Fragkopanagos or ground crew, who were arrested then released yesterday.
It comes after his friend Jack Stanton-Gleaves, who was in the same helicopter which had flown from the party island of Mykonos, also hit back at the police version of events.
Daisy, a student at the University of Manchester, told MailOnline: “This was Jack’s first ever helicopter ride. So you can imagine how cautious and wary, if anything, he was.
“All the rest, of him running back on the tarmac and violating protocols, is rubbish.
“Why? Because there were no protocols. They were never told what to do and what not to.’
Daisy added: “No one knows exactly what led him back [towards the tail rotor]. Perhaps he forgot something. But the line that he went back to take a selfie is rubbish. It’s a lie.”
The president of Greece’s committee for aviation accidents, Ioannis Kandyllis, is reviewing the event. Kandyllis told the Mail that all safety regulations were followed on the helipad Monday night. However, he also added “Aviation regulations require disembarkation to take place either when the helicopter’s rotors have completely stopped, or when expert crew accompanies passengers off.”
If the claim that Fenton’s party wasn’t accompanied off the helicopter turns out to be true, then safety standards were not upheld and the pilot and two members of the ground crew will likely face trial in Fenton’s death. Kandyllis will make a recommendation to Greek courts after interviewing witness and reviewing security footage.