VAAL TRIANGLE - A local businessman, his sister and his two dogs reportedly died on Friday evening when the helicopter he was piloting crashed into the Vaal Dam near Vaal Marina. The 69-year-old Jacobus “Essie” Esterhuysen, owner and MD of the Esgro Group that manages food franchises such as Wimpy and Steers at filling stations, was en route from Rand Airport in Germiston to spend a weekend at his house at Vaal Marina. He along with his sister Dané and Beagle terriers Abigail and Pablo were killed when the Robinson R44 helicopter that Esterhuysen was flying crashed into the water at Sunset Cove just seconds before landing. The helicopter was on its final approach to the helipad on the lakeshore when it flew into water. A bystander rowed out the crash site in a small boat and recovered Dané's body. SAPS divers recovered Esterhuysen's body the following day. The wrecked helicopter was also dragged ashore. TimesLive reports the SA Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba said on Friday the CAA would conduct an investigation into the crash. Pilots took to local aviation forum Avcom to express their shock and offer their condolences to the Esterhuysen family. Some forum members posters said SA aviation had “lost a giant”. Others said “Essie” was a gentleman who always gave back to help those less fortunate.
PHOTOS: (Facebook; Supplied to Maroela Media)