JACO van Dyk, the helicopter pilot, who along with his three children survived a helicopter crash on the outskirts of Windhoek, was in high spirits before undergoing emergency surgery to assess and repair the damage to his broken back earlier this evening.
Besides sustaining some serious external injuries like cuts and bruises to various parts of his body and breaking his back, Van Dyk also broke one of his arms, his pelvic bone and his breast bone.
The Grootfontein businessman was reportedly in high spirits and making jokes before being wheeled into the operating theatre for the emergency surgery.
His oldest daughter was also taken to theatre for emergency surgery this evening after X-rays revealed that one of her neck vertebrae was cracked. She also suffered a broken arm.
His middle child, also a girl, displaced and injured one of the vertebrae lower down in her spinal column and suffered a broken ankle. She was not scheduled for emergency surgery.
Van Dyk’s youngest child, a boy, only sustained bruises to his head and is in a satisfactory condition.
The divorced father and his children took off from Grootfontein earlier on Thursday morning to fly to Windhoek.
While on final approach to the Eros Airport, Van Dyk reportedly experienced trouble with the MD60 helicopter and declared an emergency with air traffic controllers over the radio.
A search and rescue operation was launched immediately.
A helicopter from the Namibian Police’s Air Wing and a military helicopter that was already flying in the immediate vicinity of the crash site assisted with searching for the wreckage of the downed civilian helicopter.
Paramedics stabilised Van Dyk and his oldest daughter on the scene of the crash before all four accident survivors were airlifted to the Eros Airport and emergency medical care that the Lady Pohomba Hospital in Windhoek.
A person close to the investigation indicated that van Dyk performed an emergency landing in the hilly terrain immediately east of Windhoek after experiencing some problems with his MD60 helicopter.
The actual cause of the accident is currently under investigation.