SKYDIVE DEATH: Husband's tribute to former Gladstone student
THE heartbroken husband of a beloved skydiving victim has paid tribute to "the love of my life" in a devastating tribute to the mother of eight.
Kerri Pike was doing a jump to celebrate her birthday on Friday when it turned to tragedy and she, along with instructors Toby Turner and Peter Dawson, died after a midair collision.
"I lost the love of my life yesterday," Mrs Pike's husband Alister posted on his "Hooked Up Fishing Adventures" business page.
"Please give me time to gather my thoughts. We will be out scaring those fish soon."
Every year up to 20,000 skydiving thrill seekers visit tiny Mission Beach, a funky tourist hamlet about two hours' drive south of Cairns.
As the tandem skydivers exit the aircraft at 14,000 feet, they free fall at up to 220kmh for a heart-stopping 50 seconds.
At 5000 feet, the main parachute is popped and it turns into a dreamlike float to earth under the silk canopy.
Few in the district, even visiting tourists, have been left untouched by the pall of sadness that has fallen over the town.
Slowly, the sombre mood of a suspended state of disbelief and shock has become one of grim reality.
"Everyone is just numbed", Cassowary Coast mayor John Kremastos said yesterday.
"We are all deeply shocked and moved. We've been through tragedy and disaster before, three cyclones, and we'll pull through.
"But right now it is about the human and social impact to the families and this town."
Tourists Lia Spottog and Alin Brunner, On Mission Beach yesterday, said the mood in town was one of "heartfelt" sadness.
"You can see the floral tributes out of the front of the Skydive shop, you can see people crying and hugging each other in the street," Ms Spottog said.
"It's not anonymous like in a big city, here the town is so tiny and the accident so traumatic, it makes the impact of the loss even more profound," Ms Brunner said.
"Our hearts go out to them."