GDF helicopter crash: Corporal Jackson sustained burns, broken limb

The two survivors of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) helicopter crash have since underwent “comprehensive” medical evaluation following their extraction and are both “recovering.”

In providing an update on the crash during a sitting of the National Assembly on Monday, Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips said Corporal Dwayne Jackson sustained a broken right limb and second-degree burns.

“While these findings are not life threatening, Corporal Jackson is undergoing treatment including dressing, anti-biotic and pain relief,” the Prime Minister informed the House.

As it relates to the other surviving soldier, Lieutenant Andio Crawford, the Prime Minister said while he did not sustain any serious injuries, he is receiving “appropriate” treatment. Both survivors remain hospitalised.

“Lieutenant Crawford can walk and move unaided. He is receiving appropriate treatment…he is in good spirits, Lieutenant Crawford is accompanied by relatives during this time,” the Prime Minister further noted.

According to Prime Minister Phillips, both ranks are in “good spirits, fully conscious, oriented and coherent.”

“We are thankful that despite the adverse conditions and against the odds, they were able to return home with their families. Their commitment to duty, to our nation, will not go unnoticed,” he said.

The two survivors were among a crew of seven soldiers who departed Camp Base Ayanganna on December 6 to visit troops on duty on the country’s western border. They were on board the army’s Bell 412 helicopter.

As they were 30 miles from the Venezuela border, signal for the helicopter was lost. About two hours after take-off, the aircraft transmitted an emergency locator transmitter signal from coordinates approximately 30 miles east of Arau on Guyana’s western borders.

Search and rescue teams were immediately dispatched to locate the crew members and the aircraft.

And on Thursday, after strenuous efforts, the team found the crash site about nine miles south-east of Blake Slater’s airstrip, Ekereku Top, Cuyuni River and then confirmed that five crew members perished in the accident.

Those who died are Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan.

At a press conference on Saturday, Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Brigadier Omar Khan said the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) will be spearheading the investigation into the crash.

And in keeping with protocols, Brigadier Khan said GDF will convene a Board of Inquiry for its own internal review.