Emmerdale Wiki
Emmerdale Wiki

Helicopter Crash.jpg

The helicopter crash was a disastrous event that occurred in August 2015 when a helicopter crashed in the village.

The crash was caused by an explosion after Chrissie White set alight her husband Robert Sugden's car during a heated argument at the scrapyard. The fire edged close to some gas canisters, causing them to explode into the air colliding with the helicopter, leading the helicopter to then hurtle towards and crash into the Village Hall during the wedding of Pete Barton and Debbie Dingle right after Debbie's affair to Pete's brother Ross was revealed. 


On 4th August 2015, as Debbie Dingle and Pete Barton were preparing for their wedding in the Village Hall, when Pete's brother Finn discovers a recording of Debbie and their other brother Ross discussing their affair and struggles whether to reveal the secret or not. Meanwhile, Lachlan White confesses to his mother Chrissie that he'd framed her estranged husband Robert Sugden for the poisoning of his grandfather Lawrence White, using the last of his stash of drugs but explains he didn't intend for Lawrence to touch the drugs. However, both are unaware of that Robert is overhearing. Robert bargains half of the company in exchange for silence over Lachlan's crime with Chrissie.

Ross Barton dangles over the cliff edge.

Debbie's father, Cain Dingle who knows about the affair tries to get Ross to leave, but when he refuses Cain knocks him unconscious and bundles him into the back of a van. The villagers gather at the church for the wedding and Eric, Doug and Rodney trick sisters Diane and Val and lock them both in the Maze of Mirrors in an attempt to get them to talk. Meanwhile, Ross gains consciousness in the back of the van and kicks open the van doors to discover it parked on the edge of a cliff. Ross jumps out of the van, over the cliff and into the water below, realising this to be the only way to make his escape. Later, Ross floats unconscious in the water below the cliff.

As Debbie walks down the aisle to Pete, Finn realises he can't be responsible for ruining the wedding. The wedding goes through and the wedding reception gets underway at the Village Hall and fairground. Meanwhile, Lachlan confesses to Chrissie about Robert's plan to win her back by pretending Lachlan was suicidal and Diane and Val realise they've been set up and continue to argue as they attempt to make their escape. Diane gloats over Val being locked up and Val wipes the smile of her face by revealing her plan to fake her death to avoid prison. Back at Village Hall, Pete reveals to Debbie that he's booked a helicopter to whisk them away after the reception. 

Chrissie confronts Robert at the scrapyard over his trick to get back with her by using Lachlan. She tells him he's won and hands him a cheque for £1,000,000. Chrissie tells Robert to take the cheque and sign an agreement to dissolve his business partnership. He doesn't trust her and refuses to sign it without a lawyer. Livid, Chrissie charges from the PortaKabin and begins pouring petrol over Robert's car before setting it alight. Robert attempts to extinguish the car but doesn't notice flames still licking away in the background as he continues to argue with Chrissie. Robert begs Chrissie for another chance but she walks away. They fail to notice the fire spreading to two nearby propane gas canisters as Adam Barton drunkenly sleeps next to them in a car.

Andy Sugden and Chas Dingle find the USB stick with Debbie and Ross discussing their affair in the bin at Dale View. At the reception, Debbie and Pete prepare for their first dance. Meanwhile, Ross regains consciousness in the water and Debbie and Pete's helicopter flies over the Dales to get to the village. Debbie is horrified as Aaron plays the USB stick and Ross's recording echos over the speaker, revealing her affair and plans to leave Pete. Cain intervenes by turning it off but Finn turns it back on at Pete's demands.

The helicopter crashes into the Village Hall.

The fire at the scrapyard takes hold of the gas canisters, sending them shooting up into the air, hitting the helicopter as it passes by. The helicopter flies about uncontrollably over the village as Dan Spencer watches in horror before dashing back into the Village Hall, yelling at everyone to get out. Before anyone can leave, the helicopter crashes down on the Village Hall. 


Val's final moment.

Ruby Haswell was the first person to die following the disaster after Dan Spencer and Kerry Wyatt were unable to save her. The helicopter later exploded and Diane Sugden and Val Pollard, who were stuck in a fairground mirror maze nearby, were affected by the blast. Before Val was killed by being struck by a  falling shard of mirror her last words were: "I'm H.I.Val. I'm Valerie Pollard of the Valerie Pollard foundation...I'm Val!".

Outside the hospital, Pete and Ross Barton came to blows one last time and Pete pushed Ross to the floor, causing Ross to hit his head on a concrete wall. Pete carried on beating him, unaware that Ross had immediately died from his injuries. Panicking, Pete decides not to call for help and decided to place Ross' lifeless body in the boot of his car, takes him to a ditch in the woods and buries him there and covers his body with leaves and later returns to the hospital to see his injured wife Debbie. It was revealed that Ross, Val and Ruby had met "their summer fate". Ross, however, was revealed to be alive a few weeks later.

Known casualties

  • Helicopter pilot - He was flying the helicopter when it was struck and died during the crash. 
  • Ruby Haswell - Ruby was the first villager to die following the disaster after Dan Spencer and Kerry Wyatt were unable to save her.
  • Val Pollard - Val was stuck in a mirror maze with Diane at the time of the crash. The crash caused them to be trapped in the maze. After Diane is freed out of the rubble, a shard of glass impales Val and kills her instantly. Val's last words were: "I'm Val. I'm Valerie Pollard of the Valerie Pollard foundation...I'm Val!". After Val's death, her family find a DVD detailing her funeral plans, and a few home truths.
  • Ross Barton (presumed, later debunked) - Ross hit his head on the corner of a pavement during a fight with brother Pete, who carried on hitting him. After thinking he was dead, Pete panicked and quickly buried Ross' body in the woods, However, it was later confirmed that Ross had survived.

Background information

  • A promo titled Fateful summer on Emmerdale aired in July 2015, teasing the run-up to a disaster occurring at Debbie Dingle and Pete Barton's wedding day, featuring characters venture into a forest, where the mood turns darker as they stop to find an exit marked with an ominous face which signifies death.
  • Initial reports indicated that the stunt would be of catastrophic proportions for the residents and would rival the plane crash of 1993, though in reality, the helicopter crash failed to reach the impact of destruction or aftermath on the village that the plane crash had previously. Series Producer Kate Oates later revealed that the crash was originally planned for later in the year but bosses at ITV had requested the crash to be planned into storylines for August. 
  • Emmerdale received several awards and nominations for the stunt the following year, including "Aftermath of Village Hall explosion (Episode 7255 (6th August 2015))" being nominated as Best Single Episode at the Britsh Soap Awards, "Wedding Day Helicopter Crash" being nominated as Best Show-Stopper at Inside Soap Awards and "Val dies in the hall of mirrors!" winning Best Shock Twist at Inside Soap Awards.