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Groom left fighting for life after Grand Canyon helicopter crash

By Richard Guttridge | Birmingham | News | Published:

Jonathan Udall, whose parents lived in the Black Country, was on the helicopter alongside new wife Ellie Milward as part of their honeymoon

Left to right: Jonathan Udall, Ellie Milward, Becky Dobson and Stuart Hill

A newlywed with links to the Black Country was fighting for his life today following a helicopter crash at the Grand Canyon.

Jonathan Udall, aged 32, was on the helicopter touring the famous US attraction alongside new wife Ellie Milward as part of their honeymoon when it plunged to the ground, killing three of their friends.

Mr Udall, from Birmingham and whose parents hail from Smethwick, had a miraculous escape and was airlifted to hospital in Las Vegas where he was in a critical but stable condition. Wife Ellie, 29, also survived the crash.

They had been on a friends holiday of a lifetime and were also celebrating their recent marriage when tragedy struck.

'Inseparable' brothers Jason and Stuart Hill, 32 and 30, and Stuart's girlfriend Becky Dobson, 27 were killed in the horror crash 60 miles northwest of Peach Springs, Arizona.

Jason's girlfriend Jennifer Barham, 39, and pilot Scott Booth, 42, were also seriously injured after the helicopter went down in 'unknown circumstances' on Sunday.

Jonathan's father Philip, who now lives in Southampton, said the family were desperately trying to get a flight over to their son and daughter-in-law's bedside.

A survivor, lower right, walks away from the scene of a deadly tour helicopter crash along the jagged rocks of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona

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He said: "We found out Sunday lunchtime that they Jonathan and Ellie had been involved in an accident.

"We don't know much more than what has been reported in the papers and we are just desperately trying to get a flight over at the moment.

"We have spoken to the hospital and they are in a critical condition but they told us they are currently stable.

"The information is currently quite sketchy but we know that other families will be suffering a lot worse than us at the moment. Others were not so lucky.

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"Johnathan and Ellie were on their honeymoon after recently getting married.

"At this point, we don't know much more we are just in a rush to get out there. We're desperate for news."

Witnesses rushed to the scene but struggled to reach the victims who had fallen 600ft down in the canyon, in Hualapai Nation reservation.

The group had planned the holiday a year in advance, flying out last Wednesday for Stuart's 30th birthday, two days later, as well as celebrating Jonathan and Ellie's marriage in November.

The Grand Canyon

Stuart and Jason's heartbroken father David Hill said his 'wonderful boys' were on the helicopter tour with friends when disaster struck.

The chaplain, from Worthing, West Sussex, said: "The boys had been saving for over a year for this trip and they were really looking forward to it.

"They and a group of friends had all flown out to celebrate Stuart's birthday and it was part of the trip for them to all go on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.

"We found out yesterday about the crash and me and their mother, Sandra, are truly devastated.

"The boys were so close, they were born 22 months apart and were like twins. They were just inseparable.

"Jason worked as a solicitor and Stuart worked as a car salesman, they both lived very successful lives, we were so proud of them.

"We are so lucky to have had our boys for 30 years. We are so heartbroken."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Deputy Chief Reporter - @RichG_star

Deputy Chief Reporter for the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton.

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