It’s a dark day for the national broadcaster with news that three of the ABC’s own are believed to have been killed in a helicopter crash near Lake Eyre yesterday. Highly regarded journalist Paul Lockyer, pilot Gary Ticehurst and cameraman John Bean, all who had been with the ABC for decades, had been working on stories about Lake Eyre for the ABC when their helicopter went down.

John Logan was the first ABC journalist to report the news on 702 Sydney at 5am, with Matthew Lane giving the full report on the crash and Michelle Brown speaking about the careers of the three men.

Fran Kelly not only announced the news of her friends’ deaths on Radio National Breakfast, she spoke of her experiences working alongside them, interviewed a SA senior constable about the accident and interviewed ABC managing director Mark Scott.

AM host Tony Eastley, currently stationed north of Broome, dedicated the program to the trio, and gave a touching obit to his long-time friend Paul Lockyer.

“Many heavy hearts, both last night and today, so bear with us,” began Tamara Oudyn on ABC  News Breakfast this morning. Her co-host Michael Rowland noted that he had worked with Lockyer at the Commonwealth Games and that Bean was another colleague he knew well.

ABC boss Mark Scott gave multiple heartfelt interviews to ABC radio and TV this morning, giving in depth accounts of the three’s illustrious careers. He told AM: “We have been going for nearly 80 years. I don’t think we have ever had a day like the day we might be facing with news of the loss of three distinguished colleagues out reporting a story.”

Liz Jackson from Four Corners spoke with 774 ABC Melbourne about her personal experiences with Ticehurst and her work with Lockyer. Deborah Cameron on 702 ABC Sydney interviewed multiple ABC colleagues. Madonna King in Brisbane replayed an interview with Lockyer and interviewed Robin McConchie, who has worked with Lockyer and Bean. All ABC regional radio stations covered the story in-depth.

Within hours ABC staff had put together tribute videos, built websites and filed tributes cataloguing the rich careers of their  colleagues.

Our condolences to the family and friends of all three men, and as for their ABC colleagues — they’re to be commended for their dignified and professional handling of such a difficult and personal story.

Updated: an earlier version of this article misspelt the surname of Michelle Brown.

Peter Fray

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