Chopper fell 80m before crashing into ground
THE three men who escaped a helicopter crash in Kakadu on Tuesday reportedly fell 80m to the ground
The chopper went down more than 100km from Jabiru.
One of the men was able to pull himself from the wreckage and call for help.
The helicopter, a Bell 206, crashed in dry harsh terrain.
The chopper appears to have come into contact with a tree when it crashed.
The complex rescue effort involved CareFlight, police, the air force and park rangers.
CareFlight crew members said the helicopter had to be carefully pulled apart to remove the patients.
Andy Ralph, the brother-in-law of one of the crash victims, Fred Hunter, said the men were, "very lucky" to live through the crash.
"Fred said the chopper dropped like a stone from 80m and went straight in … the pilot (Fred said he was very experienced and competent) couldn't do a thing," he said.
He said Mr Hunter was covered in Jet A1 fuel that had leaked from the fuel tank.
He said it looked like Mr Hunter had fractures to his back and gouges but was able to wriggle his toes.
"Docs hoping no long-term damage, but definitely in Royal Darwin Hospital for a while … gonna buy them all a Lotto ticket," he said.
The second ranger has been identified as Ian Conroy.
CareFlight nurse Paul Campbell and pilot Jamie Humphreys were among a team of four people on the helicopter tasked to treat and rescue the three men.
They found the aircraft badly damaged.
"You could see that they had come in quite hard," Mr Campbell said.
"The main shell of it was intact, but with the terrain, there were pieces that had fallen off."
Mr Campbell said they were winched down to a site about 250m from the crash - so as not to whip up debris over the patients.
"The people that were helping were glad to see us and the three injured men were happy to see us as well and were just wanting assistance, so it was quite hectic when we arrived."
The pilot of the helicopter was quickly identified as the patient needing the most urgent care.
"We managed to get him out of the helicopter, we managed to start treatment, initially started getting blood products through (him) and it was probably less than 10 minutes until he was up into the helicopter and heading to Cooinda to be off loaded to a King Air (and taken to Darwin)," Mr Campbell said.
Mr Humphreys said there were 12 winch cycles to get the CareFlight staff, gear and patients in and out of the area.
"I think with any aviation accident when you're hitting the ground hard you're thankful to walk away if you can."
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said it was investigating the crash and expected a completed report by the end of the year.
"As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview the crew and obtain other relevant evidence and information," a spokesman said.
Jayrow Helicopters, which supplied the helicopter that crashed, has been contacted for comment.