A British tourist has died in Greece, after being dismembered by the blades of a helicopter after getting too close to the aircraft while the engines were still running.
The 22-year-old man is thought to have been returning from a holiday on the Greek island of Mykokos via Athens. The man was exiting the Bell 407 helicopter at an airport in Spata, close to the Greek capital, on Monday at around 6:30 p.m., Greek City Times reported.
British media identified him as Jack Fenton, a student at Oxford Brookes University.
He disembarked from the helicopter after it landed at the Superior Air helipad and is understood to have been led to safety away from the runaway by staff, The Sun reported.
The newspaper said that Fenton quickly walked back from the reception towards the helicopter, despite horrified onlookers shouting at him to stop. He was reportedly talking on a cellphone. He was then struck in the head by the high-speed rotor blade.
The pilot of the helicopter and fellow passengers saw the blade kill him, and the pilot is said to be “deeply traumatized” by the accident.
Emergency services were called to the private heliport on the fringes of Athens, but the man is believed to have been killed almost instantly by the blades.
Fenton and three other British tourists, including his sister, had rented the helicopter from Mykonos to fly back to Athens on, Greek City Times reported.
Fenton’s parents were flying in a helicopter in behind him, and The Sun reported that the shocked pilot told the parents’ pilot via radio to defer their landing to Athens Airport so they did not see their dead son.
Greek police are investigating and according to Greek City Times, are probing the pilot who landed the aircraft about why the passengers were allowed to exit while the rotors were still spinning.
Giorgos Kalliakmanis, head of the police union, told Greece’s MEGA news channel that the pilot could face manslaughter charges if he was believed to be at fault.
“These propellers run for about two minutes from the time he turns the engine off unless he presses a button which stops them at 50 seconds,” Kalliakmanis said.
“The helicopter door has no security, anyone who wants to open the door and get out. The preliminary investigation will look at whether the pilot informed them to get out when the propeller and engines stopped.”
Police are also investigating whether there was a possibility that Fenton ran back towards the helicopter to take a selfie, The Sun reported, citing a police source.
A British Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We are supporting the family of a British man who has died in Greece and are in contact with the local authorities.