Sky dive firm hit in public outcry
A WAVE of community support around bereaved Mission Beach man Alister Pike has scotched a sky dive company's plans to treat the anniversary of his wife's tragic death as another day at the office.
It is understood a memorial jump has instead been planned on Saturday afternoon in tribute to instructors Toby Turner and Peter Dawson.
The two men died with Mr Pike's wife Kerri after a suspected midair collision over Mission Beach on October 13 last year.
On Sunday, Mr Pike said a source close to the Skydive Mission Beach and its parent company Experience Co told him regular jumps would be carried out on the anniversary.
"I have just been advised that Skydive Mission Beach will be operating next Saturday, October 13, the anniversary of not just my darling Kerri's tragic death but also two fine young men," Mr Pike posted on Facebook on Sunday night.
Mr Pike said the company's operations manager had previously told him regular jumps on Saturday would be "extremely disrespectful" to the deceased.
The post soon attracted responses from around Mission Beach, Innisfail and Cardwell protesting the decision.
Yesterday afternoon, Mr Pike said Experience Co decided to suspend operations on Saturday aside from a memorial jump.
He said he considered the local skydivers as family.
"Many are friends of mine - they are families among us," he later posted.
"A memorial jump for Peter and Toby ... is right and appropriate."
Speaking after Experience Co's reported change of heart, Mr Pike said he was "absolutely touched" by the groundswell of support.
He said the company had a lot to learn about operating in regional towns.
"Mission Beach is a small cog in a large machine," he said. "It is a shareholder owned company - their responsibility to the community comes second to the shareholders and the bottom line."
El Arish resident and friend of Mr Pike, Bonny Bauer, said company's initial instinct was cold-hearted.
"You would think they would do the right thing by your employees, it is still raw in the community," Ms Bauer said.
Experience Co has been asked for comment.