Canterbury wedding helicopter crash: Severely injured photographer transferred to Auckland, long recovery ahead

New Zealand

All four occupants were seriously injured in Saturday’s crash. Photo / George Heard

The wedding photographer seriously injured in a horror helicopter crash at a Christchurch couple’s wedding earlier this month has been transferred to Middlemore hospital on a specialist medical flight.

And as she struggles to be separated from the newlyweds who have been injured by her side, she finds peace in spending time with her family and being taken for walks away from her hospital room.

Rachel Jordan sustained significant injuries to her spine, ribs, breastbone, arms, feet and lungs when the engine of the Robinson R44 helicopter lost power shortly after takeoff from the Terrace complex Downs June 12.

It documented the marriage of Mahdi Zougoub and Fay El Hanafy who were also seriously injured, as well as the pilot.

Jordan has been in Christchurch Hospital since the accident, in the intensive care unit until she recovered enough from two major surgeries to be transferred to an orthopedic trauma ward.

She is now back in Auckland, closer to her family’s home in the High North.

Jordan and her husband Eric left the United States for New Zealand in 2015 with their young son Evan.

Eric Jordan said the past few days have been difficult as his wife has readjusted after being transferred from Christchurch to Auckland, where her treatment continues in a trauma ward.

“I had a family friend travel with Rachel in a small private medical plane to watch her and keep her comfortable – while I returned to the Bay of Islands to tidy up before seeing Rachel in Auckland, ”he told the Herald. .

“I traveled back and forth to the hospital with my son Evan to hang out with her.”

In Auckland, Jordan has a special spine chair that staff “hoist” her into from her bed.

“We take her for a short walk to the hospital each day in her chair to give her some fresh air and start to put her in a recovery state of mind,” said Eric Jordan.

“She was recognized by many people in the hospital as the photographer involved in the helicopter crash – and a man even pulled us aside and asked if he and his wife could pray for us – which was. quite touching.

Photographer Rachel Jordan struggles to be "separated from" Zougub and El Hanafy and the hospital staff who treated her every day since the crash.  Photo / Givealittle
Photographer Rachel Jordan has struggled to be “separated” from Zougoub and El Hanafy and the hospital staff who had treated her every day since the accident. Photo / Givealittle

“They have recast all the casts on her arms and legs with more durable versions, and are monitoring her situation before she can be transferred to the spinal unit.

“She has hot pink plasters on her legs and arms – and my son Evan drew a series of pictures on her to keep her spirits up.”

Eric Jordan said his wife struggled to readjust at the new hospital.

She had struggled to be “separated” from Zougoub and El Hanafy and the hospital staff who had treated her every day since the accident.

“She then started to get a few good days off – then a pain returned to her rib cage where her ribs had been fractured and her doctors are trying to rule out a possible blood clot near her lungs or reduce it to pain. beaming from broken ribs, ”Jordan’s husband explained.

“We were also told yesterday that the surgeons would like to perform additional surgery on Rachel’s right foot to insert another plate to help increase her chances of being able to walk again at some point in the future.

“With everything going on, it’s a lot for us to reconsider whether or not to have Rachel undergo another operation – and we’ve been told we have until Friday to make a final decision.”

Eric Jordan said there was “a little bit of weight on his mind right now”.

“And all she really wants is to get some rest,” he said.

Jordan has yet to speak to the Civil Aviation Authority, which is investigating the crash.

“I wish she would try to pass important details about the accident to CAA either at the end of the week – or next week – but that will be delayed if we have to submit Rachel for another operation,” Eric said. Jordan. .

Another stress for the couple was the impact of ongoing treatments.

Jordan is an extremely health conscious woman who worried about the future consequences of medical procedures.

Mahdi Zougub and his new wife Fay El Hanafy were injured in the accident.  They are both hospitalized with serious injuries.  Photo / Givealittle
Mahdi Zougoub and his new wife Fay El Hanafy were injured in the accident. They are both hospitalized with serious injuries. Photo / Givealittle

“They want to do additional CT scans to analyze the situation (in her ribs), but she has already had several of these CT scans and each other puts her at risk of developing cancer from the radiation in the future,” he said. said Eric Jordan.

“I am committed to researching alternatives to CT scans that would be less damaging to his body – so we are currently examining this issue.”

The newlyweds remain in Christchurch Hospital and the pilot has been transferred to Burwood Hospital where she is in stable condition.

None of the three were ready to speak to the Herald yet.

Jordan could stay in the hospital for several more months.

Wyndon Aviation helicopter owners confirmed last week that the crash was the result of a loss of engine power.

They are still working to establish how it happened.

The Civil Aviation Authority is also investigating and contacted the manufacturer.

They had also requested photos that Jordan had taken seconds before the plane collapsed to the ground, hoping those could shed light on the situation.

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