A doomed seaplane excursion has claimed the lives of high profile British executive Richard Cousins, four of his close family members, and the pilot.
The CEO of global catering giant Compass Group has died in a seaplane crash on New Years Eve, along with four members of his family, while holidaying in Sydney.
Richard Cousins (58), one of Britain’s most powerful executives, his two sons Edward (23) and William (25), his fiancée Emma Bowden (48) and her daughter Heather (11) all perished when the seaplane they chartered went down in Jerusalem Bay, north of Sydney.
Paul Walsh, Compass chairman, said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard’s family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them.
“Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”
The body of 44-year-old Canadian pilot Gareth Morgan, who had reportedly flown the route “hundreds of times”, was also recovered by police.
“He was a lovely guy, a gentle guy, deeply liked by all the staff… we’re devastated by his loss,” said managing director of Sydney Seaplanes Aaron Shaw.
Mr Shaw also extended his deepest condolences to the victims’ families and had no explanation as to what caused the “tragic accident”, saying he was unaware of any distress call.
The police, in cooperation with the Australian Safety Transport Bureau and Civil Aviation Safety Authority, are now investigating the cause of the crash.
The family boarded the DHC-2 Beaver aircraft after lunch at Cottage Point Inn on the Hawkesbury River, bound for Rose Bay in Sydney’s east.
However, something went terribly awry shortly after take off at approximately 3.15pm.
The plane’s wreckage is currently being recovered from water 13 metres deep near Cowan.
Mr Cousins was looking ahead to a new life, having made the decision to step down as CEO of the Compass Group at the end of March 2018, and planning to marry Ms Bowden.
Shocked to hear of the death of Richard Cousins. He was one of the finest business leaders Britain has produced in recent times & always entertaining company. Here's my piece on him from November.
Compass can credit Cousins for top table legacy https://t.co/CdyA32EHnj
— Ian King (@IanKingSky) January 1, 2018
His successor Dominic Blakemore will now take the reins of the FTSE 100 caterer with immediate effect.
Mr Cousins took over Compass in 2006 when it was facing allegations of corruption regarding to its relationship with procurement officials at the UN.
During his time at the helm, he managed to return £9 billion to shareholders in dividends and buybacks, according to the Financial Times.
Mr Cousins’ proven ability to turn around companies saw him ranked number 17 in the Harvard Business Review’s top 100 best performing CEOs in 2016.
He also guided British supermarket chain Tesco as a non-executive director at the height of its well-publicised accounting scandal in 2014, and announced his resignation from the role of senior independent director at the beginning of last year.