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A British tourist was killed by a helicopter rotor blades after landing in Greece, and now the pilot and two members of the ground crew are facing negligent homicide charges, according to reports.
A group of British tourists returning from Mykonos landed at a private heliport in Spata and were supposed to get into cars to head to Athens International Airport, where they planned to board a private jet to return to the United Kingdom. But after the chopper landed, Jack Fenton, 22, from Kent, died after walking into a still spinning rotor blades on the Bell 407.
Ioannis Kandyllis, president of Greece’s committee for aviation accidents, said four passengers, including Fenton, disembarked from the chopper and were escorted back to a private lounge to await their flight back to 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,” Kandyllis said, according to The Telegraph.
“Witnesses we spoke to said he had a phone to his ear and was walking fast to the aircraft, defying ground crew shouting to him ‘Stop, stop!’ Within seconds the tragic accident occurred. It was horrific,” he said.
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But friends who were traveling with Fenton, a junior account executive at a social media marketing firm, adamantly denied parts of Kandyllis’s story, including that Fenton was on the phone.
“No instructions were given when exiting the helicopter and no one escorted us to the lounge. All they did was open the doors for us,” Fenton’s friend, Jack Stanton-Gleaves, 20, told MailOnline. “We disembarked on our own and no one stopped Jack from going to the rear of the helicopter. None of us reached the lounge before the accident happened.”
“I’ve heard people say Jack was on his phone and ran back to the helicopter and this is totally untrue,” he added. “He was not on his phone and why he turned toward the rear of the helicopter I don’t know.”
Fenton reportedly studied at Oxford Brookes University and previously attended the $43,200-a-year Sutton Valence School in Maidstone, Kent. His mother, Victoria, said her son had not been drinking.
“He had got off safely when it landed in Athens but for some reason went back behind the helicopter, and it was the rear propeller which killed him. It was instant,” she told The Daily Mail. “He’d been out the night before but hadn’t had anything to drink all day yesterday except for water. He and his friends were all sober.”
ANA, Greece’s state news agency, reported that the pilot and two ground crew members were detained for questioning. A spokesman for the Greek police told The Telegraph they were to face charges of negligent homicide and were transferred to Athens where they will face a court hearing.
“How the accident happened is still under investigation. It was a very unfortunate incident. We hope that the British man’s family will stay strong,” the police spokesman said.
A judge will decide whether to release the three or remand them into custody.
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“We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Greece and are in contact with the local authorities,” a spokesman for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.