Experts blame fog on Kobe Bryant’s crash

Coroner’s officials are working to recover victims’ remains from the hillside outside Los Angeles where a helicopter carrying former NBA star Kobe Bryant and eight others crashed in a wreck that aviation experts said may have been caused by the pilot becoming disoriented in the fog.

While the cause of the tragedy is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, some experts raised questions of whether the helicopter should have even been flying. The weather was so foggy that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff’s department had grounded their own choppers.

Bryant’s Sikorsky S-76 went down on Sunday morning, killing the retired athlete along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and everyone else aboard and scattering debris over an area the size of a football field.

Crews recovered three bodies on Sunday and resumed the search on Monday amid an outpouring of grief and shock over the loss of the basketball great who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA titles during his dazzling 20-year career.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, had asked for and received special clearance to fly in heavy fog just minutes before the crash. Several aviation experts said it is not uncommon for helicopter pilots to be given such permission, though some thought it unusual that it would be granted in airspace as busy as that over Los Angeles.

But Kurt Deetz, who flew for Bryant dozens of times in the same chopper that went down, said permission is often granted in the area.

“It happened all the time in the winter months in LA,” Deetz said. “You get fog.”

The helicopter left Santa Ana in Orange County, south of Los Angeles, shortly after 9 a.m., heading north and then west. Bryant was believed to be headed for his youth sports academy in nearby Thousand Oaks, which was holding a basketball tournament Sunday in which Bryant’s daughter, known as Gigi, was competing.

Air traffic controllers noted poor visibility around Burbank to the north and Van Nuys to the northwest. At one point, the controllers instructed the chopper to circle because of other planes in area before proceeding.

The aircraft crashed in Calabasas, about 48 kilometres northwest of downtown Los Angeles, around 9:45 a.m. at about 426 metres, according to data from Flightradar24. When it struck the ground, it was flying at about 296 km/h and descending at a rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute, the data showed.

Bryant had been known since his playing days for taking helicopters instead of braving the notoriously snarled Los Angeles traffic. “I’m not going into LA without the Mamba chopper,” he joked on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in a 2018 interview, referring to his own nickname, Black Mamba.

Randy Waldman, a helicopter flight instructor who teaches at the nearby Van Nuys airport, said its likely the pilot got disoriented in the fog and the helicopter went into a fatal dive.

“It’s a common thing that happens in airplanes and helicopters with people flying with poor visibility,” Waldman said. “If you’re flying visually, if you get caught in a situation where you can’t see out the windshield, the life expectancy of the pilot and the aircraft is maybe 10, 15 seconds, and it happens all the time, and it’s really a shame.”

Waldman said it was the same thing that happened to John F Kennedy Jr. when his plane dropped out of the sky near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in 1999.

“A lot of times somebody who’s doing it for a living is pressured to get their client to where they have to go,” Waldman said. “They take chances that maybe they shouldn’t take.”

© AP 2020

Australia Day

Where to celebrate Australia Day on the Gold Coast 2020

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi Oi!

Australia Day is here and there are plenty of celebrations for Gold Coasters to enjoy.

We’ve searched up and down the coast to bring you the hottest Australia Day events happening on the glitter strip this year – there really is something for everyone!

Amy Shark at The Star
When: 26 January
Time: From 4:45pm
Where: Garden Kitchen & Bar, The Star Gold Coast
What: Performing for an exclusive audience of just 350 people, Amy Shark will take to the Garden Kitchen & Bar Lawn stage for a chilled acoustic set. Guests will enjoy the sultry sounds of NSW vocalist Michaela Baranov as the opening act from 4.45pm – 5.45pm, followed by Amy Shark appearing from 6pm to 6.30pm.
Details: mygc.com.au/see-amy-shark-at-the-star-this-australia-day/

Gold Coast Antique Auto Club
When: 26 January
Time: 10am – 2pm
Where: 238 Mudgeeraba Road, Mudgeeraba
What: Enjoy an Australia Day celebration at the club house while checking out some of the restored cars at the Gold Coast Hinterland Heritage Museum. Come along meet the members, learn more about the club and the yearly swap meet.
Details: originalgoldcoastswap.altervista.org/

City of Gold Coast Australia Day Celebrations
When: 26 January
Time: From 4pm
Where: Broadwater Parklands
What: Enjoy delicious food vendors, live music, an ‘Aussie Activities Zone’ including water play and art activities, beach volleyball and a spectacular 15-minute fireworks display synchronised to an all-Aussie soundtrack.
Details: goldcoast.qld.gov.au/thegoldcoast/australia-day-celebrations-20389.html

Bushfire FUNdraiser at Harbour Town Premium Outlets
When: 26 January
Time: From 10am
Where: Harbour Town Premium Outlets
What: Shoppers will be able to enter a Lucky Dip – featuring prizes suspended from a pink Hills Hoist – for a $10 buy-in with all funds to be donated to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation. There’ll also be plenty of ways for kids to get involved, with $5 Face Painting and $2.50 treats also raising money towards the cause.
Details: harbourtowngoldcoast.com.au

Australia Day at Nerang RSL
When: 26 January
Time: From 10am
Where: 69 Nerang Street, Nerang
What: Enjoy plenty of fun at Nerang RSL this Australia Day with a pie eating competition, hourly prize draws, thong throwing competition, live entertainment and more.
Details: nerangrsl.com.au/

Australia Day Lawn Party at Robina Town Centre
When: 26 January
Time: From 10:30am
Where: The Promenade at Robina Town Centre
What: The Australia Day Lawn Party will be held on the Promenade and feature a live DJ, free kids activities, EMU Egg & Spoon Races, a classic Aussie Thong Toss, Flour Sack Race, Cork Hat decorating workshop and a Nutbush Workshop.
Details: robinatowncentre.qicgre.com/Promotions/2020/01/Aus-Day-Lawn-Party

Australia Day at Robina Pavilion
When: 25 & 26 January
Where: 229 Ron Penhaligon Way, Robina
What: There’ll be good times across the whole weekend, with Triple J’s Hottest 100 Live & Loud on Saturday, Live Music by Jack Casey from 12pm on Sunday, and Craft Beer Towers & Woodfired Aussie Pizza available all weekend long.
Details: robinapavilion.com.au/australia-day-2020

Australia Day at Club Helensvale
When: 26 January
Time: 12 – 5pm
Where: 20-28 Discovery Drive, Helensvale
What: Celebrate this great country of ours with Free Barefoot Bowls, a Great Aussie BBQ, Free Jumping Castle, Thong Throwing Competition, Cane Toad Racing and much more!
Details: clubhelensvale.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Australia-Day-2019.jpg

Gold Coasters recognised in 2020 Australia Day honours list

They don’t call entertainer Carol “Carlotta” Spencer the Queen of the Cross for nothing. She lived and breathed it for decades, but is now happy to call the Gold Coast home.

She’s received many accolades in her career of more than 50 years, but her Australia Day honour has come as a surprise, and one she’s not entirely comfortable with.

Carlotta has been been appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her significant service to the performing arts and to the LGBTQI community.

“I’m very honoured darling, but I think this year all the awards should go to the firefighters,” she said.

“I’m not an awards-type person but I’m very honoured, especially for being in the business for 54 years. And still doing it!”

Carlotta began her career in the 1960’s as one of the original members of the internationally renowned “Les Girls” in Sydney’s Kings Cross, later becoming the show’s star and compere.

“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve got a following from mums and dads who have followed me for years and proud of the fact I’ve put some fun in their lives, because everything is so serious today.”

“I’m politically incorrect, I hate this political correctness because we are losing our ockerism. We can’t laugh at ourselves anymore because someone gets offended which is a shame.”

“I say to people at the beginning of my show – ‘if you’re politically correct you better leave now because you won’t enjoy yourself!”

She says she’s humbled to be honoured for her work in the LGBTIQ community and hopes it will inspire others.

“I just think – look at my life, I’ve done something with my life and you can do something with your life as well. I hope they think ‘If she can do it then why can’t I?”

Image: Facebook

For Senior Gold Coast paramedic Cary Strong, July 11, 2019 will be a day forever etched in his memory.

It was the day the Earle Haven Nursing Home at Nerang shut down suddenly, leaving more than 70 frail and elderly residents in limbo.

The Queensland Ambulance Service veteran was one of the first on the scene after staff called Triple-Zero.

He remembers the “chaotic” scenes of distressed, confused and inconsolable elderly residents, most of whom were suffering dementia.

Officer Strong was told by the centre’s owner that paramedics could leave. But he had no intention of doing that.

He swung into action, coordinating and supervising the mass evacuation of residents to other nursing homes and hospitals across the Gold Coast.

After helping to save lives for 33 years, the popular paramedic has today been honoured with an Ambulance Service Medal as part of the Australia Day 2020 Honours List.

“I am extremely humbled, especially considering there are many paramedics throughout Queensland who do exceptional work and tasks each day,’’ Officer Strong said.

“At the same time, I am also honoured my peers believe what I have contributed to the QAS is worthy of recognition.”

Gold Coast Senior Operations Supervisor Cary Strong. Image: Supplied

“I’ve been lucky enough to have lived on the Gold Coast all my life.”

When John Witheriff was born, there was about 980-odd people living in his home suburb of Broadbeach.

Needless to say the suburb has grown a bit since then, but so has his passion for the Gold Coast.

The prominent lawyer and businessman has today been appointed a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his significant service to business and to the community of the Gold Coast.

“It’s come as a bit of a surprise but it feels good,” he said.

“I guess the thing that resonates with me is that I’ve been lucky enough to have lived on the Gold Coast all my life.

“I’ve seen the city grow from such a small place, and to see it grow into the city it is today, and I’ve been able to participate with teams of people in making a contribution to the development and growth.

“So it’s just been such a privilege and it’s been an honour for me to work with great people to achieve a small contribution to the city’s growth.”

Among his many significant roles that have helped shape the Gold Coast, Mr Witheriff is Chairman of GoldlinQ, was the founding chairman of the Gold Coast Suns and was a director of the Commonwealth Games Authority.

Mr Witheriff says the city is forever evolving and we need to make sure our infrastructure keeps pace and we keep developing things for people to see and do on the Gold Coast.

GoldlinQ Chairman John Witheriff. Image: Supplied

Among the other Gold Coasters honoured this year is businesswoman Trina Hockley AM for significant service to the community and to business.

Among her many hats, Ms Hockley is the owner of the L & M Gold Star/L & M Group of Companies, Chair of Arcadia College, Ohana for Youth and a director of TAFE Queensland.

Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia CEO Grant Hunt (AM) has been honoured for his significant service to the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Mr Hunt has lived on the Gold Coast since 1988 when he worked on the development of Christopher Skase’s Mirage Resorts which kick started his career in the industry.

He’s also served on the board of Tourism Australia and has served as Director of the Australian Tourism Export Council and Chairman of Tourism Northern Territory Advisory Board.

Former Southport Lions Club President Bill Goodrem (AM) has been honoured for service to the community of Southport as well as Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Peter Boyes has been awarded Medal (OAM) in the Order of Australia in the General Division for his services to the Queensland Community.

Mr Boyes has previously served as President and Chairman of the Queensland Justices Association and is a current Director of the Southport RSL Sub-Branch.

Gold Coast University Hospital Deputy Director of Trauma Services Dr Don Campbell (OAM) has been honoured for his service to trauma medicine.

Dr Campbell has been instrumental in the GCUH being recognised as one of the best trauma hospitals in the country.

Gold Coast Eisteddfod General Manager Judith Ferber (OAM) has been honoured for her service to the performing arts

She’s been involved in the event since it began as part of Tropicarnival back in 1982 and has helped grow the festival into one of the biggest of its kind in the world.

Senior Gold Coast Police officers Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler and Superintendent Craig Hanlon have been honoured with Australian Police Medals.

WATCH: See inside the new Gold Coast BMW showroom

Gold Coast BMW have unveiled a brand new purpose-built dealership that oozes luxury.

Located at 285 Southport Nerang Road, the dealership boasts a spacious 30-car showroom, a valet-style drive way for service drop-offs, a café, and a business hub featuring workstations and wi-fi.

The showroom includes dedicated spaces for specialist BMW models including the high-performance M brand, the luxurious 7 Series and bold 8 Series, the innovative BMW i brand, as well as a MINI Showroom.

See inside the dealership in the video below:

For more information, visit: goldcoastbmw.com.au

Boundary Fence Refugees Asylum

Taxpayers spend $4.5m trying to deport Tamil family

Nothing irks me quite as hard as wasted taxpayer money.

Because in reality, that’s our money – it’s basically the Bank of the Taxpayers.

It’s our income tax, our Medicare levies, our federal taxes that are funding every single choice our federal government makes when it comes to spending.

So when a politician recklessly spends public money on unnecessary travel itineraries or extravagant entertaining or fundraising parties, it makes me massively irritated.

Or when they, say, drop millions and millions of dollars to fight the deportation of a family with deep Australian ties and Australian-born children.

A recent report from Buzzfeed reveals that the Australian government has spent a whopping $4.5 million in its attempt to deport a Sri Lankan family of four, including two children who were born in Australia and who have never before stepped foot in Sri Lanka, from the country.

Just let that figure sink in for a moment: $4.5m.

That’s an astonishing amount of money.

And it’s likely to be on the conservative side, as it doesn’t include the expenses wracked up over the past four months as the couple and their two daughters have been held on an island far from the Australian mainland, while they fight deportation.

This particular family, known as “The Biloela family” because they spent years building their life in the regional Queensland town of Biloela before being taken into immigration detention, have attracted widespread media attention after Peter Dutton came mercilessly close to deporting them in August last year.

But they’re not the only example of us wasting enormous amounts of money on our “border protection policies”.

For instance: did you know that Christmas Island’s detention centre, which the government reopened in February 2019, fleeced taxpayers of almost $27 million while it sat completely empty – but was staffed by 125 people?

Or that is cost $185 million to reopen the facility in the first place?

The mind boggles.

There are so many better ways we could be spending this money, such as a sustained education program in the countries where refugee boats still regularly depart, to show them the legal way to apply as an asylum seeker? I know this is a naïve suggestion – but I also know that whatever we’re doing now, it’s not working.

And I’m sick and tired of our money being wasted like this.