I learned with sadness that friend and colleague, Paul Lockyer, died on assignment overnight. He lost his life in a chopper crash which also killed ABC helicopter pilot, Gary Ticehurst and cameraman, John Bean.
They were working on the latest in a series of wildlife documentaries about Lake Eyre and its environs. In recent years, they had been covering Australia’s bush, digging up the important stories often ignored by the city media.
I supported Paul Lockyer at an ABC/UTS forum held only last week, to discuss the coverage of disasters.
The forum at ABC Headquarters Ultimo, showed a clip of Paul’s coverage of the Grantham flash floods earlier this year. With Ticehurst at the controls, the chopper found a break in the storm clouds to land at the devastated village. Lockyer spoke movingly about the need for accuracy, integrity and most importantly, sensitivity in reporting such events. He was characteristically too modest to mention that courage was another essential ingredient of his work.
Its ironic that he lost his life covering what he told me was a “dream story”, after a lifetime of dangerous jobs as a correspondent and war reporter. We both laughed when I suggested that he had at last found the ultimate cushy job, filming ducks at Lake Eyre.
The deaths highlight the daily dangers of journalism.
- ABC mourns news crew killed in helicopter crash (theage.com.au)
- Tributes to Paul Lockyer (abc.net.au)