Couple injured in helicopter crash on wedding day

A couple seriously injured in a helicopter crash on their wedding day had previously delayed the ceremony due to the devastating mosque terror attacks and again after Covid-19.

The couple have been named by friends as Fay El Hanafy and Mahdi Zougub, who have close links to the Al Noor Mosque, in Christchurch.

The pair were on their way to their ceremony on Saturday when their helicopter went down at about 3pm, leaving them, their photographer and pilot seriously injured.

Ms El Hanafy had surgery on Sunday after suffering a broken back, foot, and legs, while Mr Zougub has a broken back and was due to undergo surgery on Monday.

Neither were at the mosque at the time of the 2019 shooting, but both lost close friends in attacks.

A then 22-year-old Mr Zougub told the New Zealand Herald he had been on his way to the Deans Ave mosque when a friend called him to tell him about the shooting.

He was not allowed inside when he arrived.

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Wasseim Alsati, a friend of Mr Zougub’s, told Stuff his friend had postponed his wedding day after the terror attacks and then had to delay the nuptials again because of covid restrictions last year.

Mr Alsati, who was among the wedding guests on Saturday and gave the groom a haircut the night before, said his friend had been working seven days a week in order to save for his big day.

Mr Alsati described the moments after guests were told of the helicopter crash, which happened just after 3pm.

“They were just in shock. Didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to say,” he told Stuff.

Friends and family have launched a fundraising campaign to help put on a wedding for the couple once they are recovered and out of hospital.

CPG Hotels operations manager Ronnie Ronalde said the company had reached out to the couple’s family but also wanted to give them some space so they could recover.

He said the company would like to pay for a return visit when the couple were healthy again.

The chopper was removed from the site on Sunday afternoon.

As well as the newlyweds, the pilot and a wedding photographer on board were also injured in the crash. They were all taken to Christchurch Hospital.

Photographer was scared of flying

The photographer on board has been identified as Rachel Jordan, who had won several awards for her craft.

Friends and family have set up a Givealittle page to help her family as she is in hospital.

An update given on the page said she suffered spinal fractures and has had surgery as a result.

“She also has five fractured ribs, lung laceration, fractured sternum, fractured arm in a few places, fractured feet.

“Rach has been able to move her legs, but is having trouble with her feet and cannot move them. But that could change as swelling around her spinal cord goes down,” it read.

“She can, however, feel people touching her feet – which is good.”

Ms Jordan’s husband, Eric Jordan, told Stuff his wife had a fear of flying, but did so for love of her job as a photographer.

He had since spoken to his wife via video calls and revealed what she said about what happened moments before the crash.

“She just said that the helicopter lost power and that it’s possible the rotor caught a tree.”

This article originally appeared on NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission

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