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Robinson Helicopter Crashes into Vaal Dam Killing Two

Vaal Dam South Africa

A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed into the Vaal Dam in South Africa on Friday evening, killing a well-known Johannesburg businessman and his sister.

Jacobus Esterhuysen, known to friends as “Essie,” was piloting the R44 helicopter with his sister Dané and two dogs on board. He was reportedly taking his sister on a weekend trip. He intended to land at Vaal Marina. Emergency officials received a call at about 6:00 p.m. local time reporting the R44 going down roughly 200 meters offshore. A bystander to the crash paddled a boat out to the wreckage and recovered Dané’s body. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Divers later recovered Mr. Esterhuysen’s lifeless body.

According to media reporting, Mr. Esterhuysen was an experienced pilot who had made the same landing at Vaal Marina many times. Aviation enthusiasts on Avcom expressed shock and dismay learning of the crash that claimed Esterhuysen’s life. Some wrote messages saying the South African aviation community had “lost a giant,” while others remembered Esterhuysen as a compassionate aviator who gave back to help those less fortunate.

Essie Esterhuysen was the founder of Esgro Group, known for the popular Steers and Wimpy franchises. Essie is survived by his wife, Mariana, and his son, Marinus. Dané is survived by her daughter, Géla le Roux, former Miss South Africa 2018.

What Caused the Vaal Dam Robinson R44 Crash?

Officials were able to extricate the wreckage from Vaal Dam. Investigators will evaluate the downed helicopter for clues on what may have caused the Vaal Dam crash. We may not know what caused the fatal crash for some time, as helicopter crash investigations generally take a year or more to complete. Once officials uncover the cause (or causes), they will issue a report and provide applicable safety recommendations.

Robinson Helicopter Company has a checkered safety history. According to government statistics, Robinson helicopters have been involved in at least 1,588 accidents or incidents worldwide. Those accidents killed 709 people and injured many more.

Robinson R22

1002 total accidents

181 of those incidents were fatal

267 people killed

Robinson R44

532 total accidents

196 were fatal

398 people killed

Robinson R66

37 total accidents

18 were fatal

37 people killed*

*Robinson helicopter accident statistics extracted from the National Transportation Safety Board accident database as of May 3, 2021

Helicopter Crash Attorneys with Experience Litigating Against Robinson

The helicopter crash attorneys at Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman have represented nearly 800 aviation accident victims. We know what it takes to win major cases against the world’s leading aviation companies, including Robinson Helicopter Company. Our firm has successfully resolved numerous cases against Robinson, obtaining justice and compensation for our clients.

If you are interested in speaking to an attorney with vast case experience against Robinson, call the law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman today at (855) 948-5098 for a free and confidential case evaluation.


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