Skydive tragedy: Town hit hard by loss of locals
IN THE tight-knit tourist hamlet of Mission Beach, friends grieved the loss of three beloved locals.
Skydive crew openly wept and consoled each other at a private function at a beachside bar.
"We're all shattered," one said. "Most of us have known all three of them for years.
"Toby and Dawson were both incredibly expert and experienced skydiving instructors. Kerri was a mother of eight kids. Now those children have to grow up without a Mum," the resident said.
"It's just too heartbreaking."
Mrs Pike and her family had celebrated her birthday on Thursday night when she was given the ill-fated tandem skydiving jump as a gift.
"Just last night she was in here with her whole family, so happy and alive," said a restaurant owner in the tropical village.
"It's awful to think today she and the two boys are gone. Toby lived just behind us and Dawson came in all the time.
"All of them terrific people taken so tragically.
"Toby had just come back from Canada doing some pretty crazy things with BASE jumping. It's a lot to let sink in."
Dozens of police and forensic specialist officers scoured the two impact sites, which are about 200m apart, under lamp light.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority investigators and skydiving experts were also expected on the scene overnight.
Police Senior-Sergeant Peter Williamson said the triple fatality was a huge loss to the community.
"Skydiving is one of the biggest tourism ventures around here," he said.
"These are three locals. It'll hit hard. It's going to hurt for a long time yet."
He appealed for any witnesses or anyone with any footage to come forward.