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Giro D’Italia disrupted by crash as helicopter blows a barrier onto road, injuring Italy’s Luca Wackermann


Italian Luca Wackermann has withdrawn from the Giro d’Italia with multiple injuries after a freak crash in Tuesday’s fourth stage caused by a low-flying helicopter.

The crash, which brought down Wackermann and Dutchman Etienne van Empel of the Vini Zabu-KTM team, happened at the end of the stage when a barrier was blown over by the draft from the helicopter and struck the two riders.

A statement from the Italian team said Wackermann, 28, was concussed in the incident and also received fractured nasal bones, as well as extensive bruising to his face and body.

He also has a suspected back fracture.

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“Wackermann will spend the night in the hospital kept under observation and losing that chance to live a dream vanished because of an episode that could have brought some heavier consequences,” the statement added.

Earlier in the day, pre-race favourite Geraint Thomas abandoned the event with a fractured pelvis after hitting an empty water bottle and crashing in the neutral zone on Monday.

“It’s so frustrating,” Thomas said.

“I’d put so much work into this race.

“So for it just to end like this is gutting,” added the 34-year-old Welshman, who claimed the Tour de France title in 2018.

A cyclist rides in the Giro D'Italia, with cuts on his leg and body, and holes in his jersey.
Geraint Thomas’s race ended on stage four, a day after his hard fall caused by running over an empty water bottle.(AP/La Presse: Marco Alpozzi)

Portugal’s Joao Almeida (Deceuninck-QuickStep) retained the pink jersey and opened a two-second lead over Ecuadorean Jonathan Caicedo after picking up a couple of bonus points in an intermediate sprint 25km from the finish line on stage four.

Frenchman Arnaud Demare edged out Peter Sagan in a bunch sprint to claim victory in the stage, the race’s last day in Sicily.

The last 30km of the 140km stage were flat, offering opportunities for the top sprinters, and it was Demare who powered across the line fractionally ahead of Sagan.

Slovakia’s Sagan had to settle for second place again as he did on stage two. Italian Davide Ballerini was third.

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Reuters



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Australian News

Paramedics respond to helicopter crash


Emergency services have rushed to a regional property in Queensland’s North Burnett region after a helicopter crashed.

Paramedics are helping one patient who had no reported injuries.

Queensland Ambulance Services said the person was able to self-evacuate from the chopper before they arrived.

A rescue chopper was deployed to find the wreckage after receiving a call for help at about 4.30pm on Wednesday.

The property is reportedly in Hawkwood, west of Maryborough.



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Australian News

Photos of Kobe Bryant helicopter crash prompt Vanessa Bryant to sue LA County Sheriff’s Department


Vanessa Bryant is suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, saying deputies shared photos of the helicopter crash in which her husband, basketball great Kobe Bryant, and daughter Gianna died in January.

The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages for negligence, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old Gianna and seven others were killed when the helicopter they were in crashed in Calabasas, en route to a youth basketball tournament on January 26.

In May, Ms Bryant filed a claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, against the department.

In the claim, Ms Bryant contended that Sheriff Alex Villanueva “personally assured her” that the family’s privacy would be protected as it related to the crash site.

“In reality, however, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies were at the scene snapping cell-phone photos of the dead children, parents, and coaches,” the claim read.

In the lawsuit, Ms Bryant alleges that one of the deputies shared the crash-site photos with a woman at a bar in suburban Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Times reported that after a bartender reported what he witnessed to the sheriff’s department, Sheriff Villanueva went to the sheriff’s substation that handled the crash and told the deputies they would not be disciplined if they deleted the photos.

Dressed in black and standing at a podium, Vanessa Bryant turns her head away and holds a tissue to her eye.
Ms Bryant had four daughters with Kobe.(AP: Marcio Jose Sanchez)

“We’ve communicated in no uncertain terms that the behaviour is inexcusable,” Sheriff Villanueva said in March.

“People are grieving for the loss of their loved ones. To have that on top of what they’ve already gone through is unconscionable. And, to think any member of our department would be involved in that.”

It was only after the Times reported the existence of the photos earlier this year that the department acknowledged an investigation, Ms Bryant’s original claim said.

USA Today reported social media users had cautioned Ms Bryant that photos of the remains of her late husband and daughter exist online.

“Mrs Bryant’s fear has been exacerbated by the fact that, despite knowing about the photos within days of the crash, Sheriff Villanueva took none of the steps that a reasonable supervisor (let alone a highly-trained professional investigator) would take to prevent dissemination of harmful photos … it is impossible to rule out that the photos will surface and go viral online. This uncertainty has caused Mrs Bryant severe stress and anguish,” the lawsuit reads, according to USA Today.

Reuters



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Conargo, Deniliquin: Helicopter crash, pilot critical


A man is fighting for life after his helicopter hit power lines and crashed into a sheep farm in the NSW Riverena area on Friday morning.

Police from the Murray River Police District were called to a property on Carrathool Road just after 11 am, to reports the man was trapped inside the aircraft.

The property is believed to be Steam Plains, one of the biggest sheep farms in the state, is about 35km north of Conargo, near Deniliquin.

Emergency services are on scene and working to treat the man before he can be transported to hospital.

More to come

hannah.moore1@news.com.au



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Kobe Bryant helicopter pilot thought he was climbing instead of descending


The pilot of a helicopter that crashed outside Los Angeles in January, killing basketball great Kobe Bryant, his daughter and all seven others on board, likely became disoriented in the fog, federal investigators said on Wednesday.

Pilot Ara Zobayan told air traffic controllers his chopper was climbing out of heavy clouds when in fact it was descending immediately before slamming into a hillside near the town of Calabasas, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wrote in newly released findings.

The board, which has not yet issued a final report on the cause of the January 26 accident, said pilots can become confused about an aircraft’s attitude and acceleration when they cannot see the sky or landscape around them, causing “spatial disorientation”.

“Without outside references or attention to the helicopteraEUR’s attitude display, the actual pitch and bank angles have the potential to be misperceived,” the NTSB said.

An NTSB board member told reporters in the days after the crash that clouds and fog causing limited visibility in the foothills north of Los Angeles would likely be a key focus of the investigation.

In February the board said an examination of the helicopter’s engines and rotors found no evidence of “catastrophic mechanical failure” that could explain why the aircraft would have suddenly plunged into the terrain.

An investigator looks through helicopter wreckage on a hillside.
The investigation found that all occupants of the helicopter died on impact.(Reuters: NTSB)

That initial report said Mr Zobayan had nearly navigated the helicopter out of blinding clouds when the aircraft suddenly turned and plunged into the mountainside.

The autopsy of Mr Zobayan showed he was unaffected by drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

A series of charts issued with the NTSB report shows the aircraft gaining speed, banking sharply to the left and plummeting just seconds after Zobayan told air traffic controllers he was “climbing to 4,000” feet to fly above the cloud layer.

Bryant, an 18-time National Basketball Association all-star, was traveling with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna — also known as GiGi — to a youth basketball tournament at the time of the crash.

Gianna Bryant’s two basketball teammates 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli and 13-year-old Payton Chester, also died in the crash.

Kobe Bryant looks at his daughter Gianna while leaning on a barrier
Kobe Bryant was travelling with his daughter Gianna when their helicopter crashed.(AP: Chris Carlson)

Others who died were Alyssa Altobelli’s parents — John and Keri Altobelli — and Payton Chester’s mother, Sarah.

Assistant basketball coach Christina Mauser also died.

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow, previously filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters, which operated the helicopter.

The lawsuit, filed on the same day as Bryant’s memorial service in February, alleged Mr Zobayan was careless and negligent to fly in the fog and should have aborted the flight.

The death of Bryant, who won five NBA championships for the Los Angeles Lakers during 20 NBA seasons and was twice named MVP of the NBA Finals, prompted an outpouring of shock and grief from sports fans worldwide.

Reuters/ABC



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Business

New Zealand discussing ‘helicopter money’ handouts to stimulate economy


The idea of helicopter money, or dumping cash unexpectedly onto a struggling economy, is slowly gaining currency among economists and policymakers as the pandemic looks to inflict the worst blow to global growth since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

None of the wealthy countries have embarked on it, though, citing risks such as central bank independence and the risk of flaring long-term inflation.

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In a helicopter money drop, a central bank would directly increase the money supply and, via the government, distribute the new cash to the population with the aim of boosting demand and inflation.

The extra cash will be a boon for New Zealand’s export-reliant economy which is expected to contract a massive 21.8 per cent in the current quarter due to the shock from the outbreak and tough measures to contain it.

In a bid to cushion the blow, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) has slashed its official cash rate to a record low 0.25 per cent and doubled its bond buying programme last week to $NZ60 billion ($56 billion) and flagged a potential shift to negative interest rates.

The government is also splashing out cash, having appeared to contained the coronavirus after one of the strictest lockdowns that lasted more than a month.

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Pilot in fatal Kobe Bryant helicopter crash had no alcohol or drugs in his system, according to post-mortem


The pilot of the helicopter that crashed with Kobe Bryant and seven others onboard did not have alcohol or drugs in his system, according to a post-mortem examination of the crash.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office released the autopsies of all nine victims who died in the January 26 crash in Calabasas, California.

The BBC reported the document found 50-year-old deceased pilot Ara Zobayan tested negative for drugs and alcohol.

The cause of death was listed as blunt-force trauma for all nine, and the manner of death was listed as accidental for each victim.

The morning crash into a hillside occurred in heavy fog and cloud cover, with the helicopter travelling 296 kilometres per hour.

An investigation showed the helicopter plunged several hundred feet before impact.

The report indicated dismembered body parts were part of the wreckage scene.

Bryant had injuries to nearly his entire body.

“These injuries are rapidly if not instantly fatal,” a medical examiner wrote of Bryant.

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow, previously filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters, which operated the helicopter.

People in uniform work through debris on a rugged hillside.
The helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California.(AP: Mark J Terrill)

Her 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died in the crash.

Kobe Bryant’s autopsy revealed the 41-year-old had Ritalin in his system.

The drug typically treats attention deficit hyperactivity and narcolepsy.

Also dying in the crash were two youth basketball teammates of Gianna Bryant: 14-year-old Alyssa Altobelli and 13-year-old Payton Chester.

Others who died were Alyssa Altobelli’s parents — John and Keri Altobelli — and Payton Chester’s mother, Sarah. Assistant basketball coach Christina Mauser also died.

Christopher Chester, whose wife and daughter died, filed a lawsuit against the helicopter company and Mr Zobayan’s estate this week.

Bryant won five NBA championships for the Los Angeles Lakers during 20 NBA seasons.

He was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2007-08, a 15-time All-NBA selection, an 18-time All-Star and 12-time All-Defensive team selection.

He twice was named MVP of the NBA Finals and was the All-Star game MVP four times.

Reuters/ABC



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Helicopter flying to Maroubra Beach, three people ‘in trouble’


A rescue helicopter has been dispatched to Maroubra Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

“Sydney’s Lifesaver 21 is responding to a report of three people in trouble at Maroubra,” Westpac Life Save Rescue Helicopters said on Twitter on Saturday afternoon.

As at 1.30pm, NSW Ambulance had not received any calls for assistance.

According to a Saturday morning lifeguard report, there were “minimal” rips at the beach and cloudy conditions were forecast with a moderate swell, one-metre waves and slight winds.

In summary it was considered a “beautiful day”.

More to come



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