The parents of two “inseparable” brothers who died in the Grand Canyon helicopter crash have described the pair as “the heart” of their family.
In a statement to the Foreign Office, Reverend David and Mrs Sandra Hill said their sons Stuart, 30, and Jason, 31, were “happy, outgoing people who loved cycling, walking and spending time with family and friends”.
“Jason and Stuart were wonderful sons, inseparable brothers and just remarkable people who were truly loved and will be deeply missed by so many, many people,” the couple said.
“We have a large extended family and Jason and Stuart were always at the heart of it, organising get-togethers and always with time for others.
“If ever either of us came home after a difficult day, Jason or Stuart would be there with a smile or a hug, and that was all we needed to lift our spirits again.
“We always did things as a family and as parents we feel blessed to have had them in our lives.”
The younger brother’s girlfriend 27-year-old Becky Dobson was also killed in the crash on Saturday at the Arizona tourist attraction.
Three passengers and the pilot survived the crash.
Stuart and Jason Hill’s parents said: “Our hearts go out to Becky’s family at this terrible time and we are praying for the recovery of Jen, Jonathan and Ellie (survivors Jennifer Barham, Jonathan Udall and Ellie Milward).”
They said the group had been in the United States celebrating Stuart’s 30th birthday.
“It was typical of them that they wanted to be together to celebrate,” they said. “Jason and Stuart had an incredible bond with each other right from when they were young children.
“We always said they were so close they were like twins and we will find some support in knowing they were with each other to the last. We will thank God every day for having them in our lives.
“Thank you for respecting our privacy at this extremely difficult time.”
Ms Dobson worked as a receptionist at a veterinary practice in Worthing, West Sussex, while Jason Hill was a corporate senior associate for law firm Shoosmiths and Stuart Hill reportedly worked for Mercedes.
Dramatic photographs of the crash site showed the wreckage engulfed in flames lying at the bottom of a canyon.
The circumstances surrounding the crash are currently unknown.
Hualapai Police chief Francis Bradley said: “It’s a very tragic incident. Yesterday, we were hampered by severe weather conditions, we had gusts up to 50mph.
“The terrain where the crash occurred… is extremely rugged.”
He told US media the conditions were “not normal” but said no flight restrictions were in place.
On its website, helicopter tour operator Papillon states that it has “more than 50 years flying the Grand Canyon and beyond” and that “safety is our top priority”.
Its chief executive Brenda Halvorson said: “It is with extreme sadness we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families involved in this accident.
“Our top priority is the care and needs of our passengers and our staff.”
An investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration is set to take place.