Grand Canyon helicopter crash - Worthing brothers among five young people remembered in heartfelt family tributes
Two Worthing brothers, who died in a helicopter crash at the Grand Canyon, have been remembered by their parents as ‘fine upstanding young men’, who ‘made the room light up on their arrival’.
Stuart and Jason Hill, aged 30 and 32, were among five victims of the fatal flight in February 2018.
Stuart’s girlfriend Rebecca Dobson, 27, and honeymoon couple Eleanor and Jonathan Udall, aged 29 and 31, who lived together in Findon, also died.
They were celebrating Stuart’s birthday and the Udall’s marriage three months before.
An inquest last Wednesday (November 17) heard that the pilot of the helicopter failed a routine safety check. Click here to read more
“I want to thank the coroner for the sensitive way that these inquests were conducted and the way that she asked pertinent questions as to the cause of the deaths of these five fantastic young people,” said the brothers’ parents, Reverend David Hill and Sandra Hill.
“We are pleased with the recommendations that are now being conveyed to various authorities following the outcome of these inquests.
“We feel we can at least draw a line under the legal work involved with this tragedy, but the grief and intensity of pain remains and we will have to deal with it on a daily basis forever.
“This deep sadness and pain is the price we pay to have been the parents of Jason and Stuart, our wonderful sons, and to have been privileged to have known their dear, dear friends who were with them. Every one of those was unique and all were deeply loved.”
The heartbroken couple ‘there is no love without pain’, adding that every day memories ‘saturate us and our cheeks are often wet with tears’.
They said: “Our grief is love with no place to go except backwards to recall the great memories and forward because our Christian hope tells us that one day we will meet them again.
“Our beloved boys, were fine upstanding young men who made the room light up on their arrival, they put a smile on everyone’s face and made real contributions to the business worlds they inhabited and to society which they enriched.
“They were both flying high in their lives and careers, had many plans for the future and they were so excited to be going on this trip with their friends.
“As parents we were incredibly proud of them both, but miss them terribly. They had different characters but were inseparable.
“The quote from Fast and Furious 7 summarises it:
“‘I used to say I live my life a quarter of a mile at a time and I think that’s why we were brothers – because you did too. No matter where you are, whether it’s a quarter of a mile away or half way across the world, you’ll always be with me. And you’ll always be my brother!’
We will never know for sure how their last moments panned out and in a way are thankful that they died almost instantly. For all of them, their suffering is now over - ours continues on a daily basis. We do not accept the word ‘closure’ and we do not move on from grief – we continue to live alongside it. We are indebted to our family and friends who have been there for us as we still have many dark days.”
The inquest heard that Jason, a solicitor, died in the canyon. His brother Stuart was a car salesman. Rebecca ‘Beccy’ Dobson, a vet assistant from Worthing, died in the wreckage.
Jonathan was a regional finance manager. His new wife Eleanor was a financial services manager.
The newlyweds died, despite intense treatment at the University Medical Centre in Las Vegas, two weeks after the crash.
The families read emotional tributes to their loved ones during the inquest.
Beccy was described by her mother Jane as an amazing daughter, sister and auntie.
Mrs Dobson said: “Our lives will never be the same.
“You will always stay with us in our hearts forever.
“We love you Beccy.”
Maggie, Terry and Jonathon Milward described Eleanor Udall as a wonderful, caring friend and godmother, devoted wife, sister and daughter.
They paid tribute to those who came to her aid in the canyon and the medical staff.
In a statement read to the court, the Udall family said: “Jonathan was only 31 when tragedy struck.
“Our world came crashing down.
“Jonathan was a compassionate, kind and caring person.
“To now face everyday without him is as unbearable as it can get.
“He has left a huge void, 31 years of Jonathan was simply not enough.”
The coroner told the families it had been a long journey to get to the inquest.
“Today, hearing you reading out details of your children was very, very moving.
“Our sincere condolences for the tragic loss of such young and gifted people in such tragic circumstances.
“Our hearts go out to you.”