The first pictures have been published of a family tragically killed in a sea plane crash in Australia on Sunday, as colleagues pay tribute to the millionaire CEO.
58-year-old Richard Cousins, the CEO of one of the world’s largest catering companies, Compass Group, died when the plane he was travelling in plunged into the Hawkesbury River, 30 miles north of Sydney.
He died alongside his two sons, Edward, 23, William, 25, as well as his fiancée, 48-year-old Emma Bowden and her 11-year-old daughter, Heather.
The last moments of the Sydney seaplane before it crashed, claiming the lives of five adults and one child pic.twitter.com/K0pFshY3nL
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 1, 2018
The Australian pilot, Gareth Morgan, who also died, has been described as ‘a gentle guy’.
Aaron Shaw, chief executive of the firm Sydney Seaplanes, said:
Ringing his parents today was one of the worst calls I’ve had to make in my life.
UPDATE: 44yo Gareth Morgan was the pilot on board the Sydney Seaplane. He perished along with Richard Cousins, his two sons, fiancé and her 11yo daughter who were visiting from the UK @7NewsSydney pic.twitter.com/wR3AGfD2yV
— Jessica Ridley (@jessicaridleytv) January 1, 2018
The family, who live in Tooting, south-west London, were reportedly flying back to Sydney after dining in an ‘exclusive waterfront restaurant in Jerusalem Bay on New Year’s Eve’, writes BBC.
It’s not yet known what the cause of the crash is and investigators have reportedly said it could be ‘many months before they can piece together events’ of what happened.
Richard Cousins had been the CEO of Compass Group in Surrey since 2006 and had been ‘due to retire in September’.
Compass chairman Paul Walsh said the firm was ‘deeply shocked and saddened’, adding:
It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years.
Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.
Eldest son, William, was the head of press for Open Britain, a group ‘fighting against a hard and destructive Brexit’.
The group’s chairman, Roland Rudd, said:
Will was an extraordinary young man who was passionate about what he did, who took deep pride in his work and came into the office every day with enthusiasm, energy and determination.
All of us at Open Britain are devastated by the tragic loss of Will and his family.
All of us at Open Britain are devastated by the loss of our colleague and friend, Will Cousins. Words cannot express how much we will miss his dedication, passion and energy. Thanks to all who have sent such kind messages at such a difficult time.
— Open Britain (@Open_Britain) January 1, 2018
Lord Mandelson, an Open Britain board member, added:
Will was a tremendous talent and a really great guy and team player. He was indefatigable in his work for Open Britain and we will miss him and honour him by continuing his work in the campaign.
Eyewitnesses at the scene of the crash said the plane had turned sharply to the right shortly after taking off and ‘sunk rapidly’ after hitting the river.
Police divers were flown to the scene and all six bodies were recovered on Sunday evening.
Our thoughts are with the victims family.