The FTSE 100 CEO who died with his family in a seaplane crash north of Sydney was due to retire in March

Photo: Steve Parsons – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

More details are emerging about the life of the CEO of the world’s largest catering company who died with four members of his close family in a seaplane crash on the Hawkesbury River on Sunday.

Richard Cousins, 58, was CEO of Compass Group, which employs more than 550,000 people, and was once named one of the world’s best-performing CEOs by Harvard Business Review. He was due to retire in March.

Cousins was in Australia on holidays with his new fiancee Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Ed, 23, and William, 25. The group were on a sightseeing trip with Sydney Seaplanes when their aircraft suddenly nosedived into the Hawkesbury River about 30km north of Sydney.

There were several eyewitnesses to the crash.

“It made a tight right-hand turn and as it actually turned around, the wings dipped and it nosedived into the water,” Myles Baptiste told The Sun.

Picture source: Channel 7 News.

Another, Todd Sellars, jumped from a houseboat 50m away and tried to open the door of the DHC-2 Beaver Seaplane before it sunk more than 15 metres to the bottom of the river.

Police will refloat the aircraft as investigations begin into how it crashed.

Sydney Seaplanes pilot Gareth Morgan was among those who died. He had flown more than 9000 hours in a seaplane, according to his employer.

Morgan had picked the group up after their lunch at the Cottage Point Inn near Cowan and was taking them south for a flyover of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Sydney Seaplanes has suspended its operations.

“The sequence of events leading up to the accident are not yet understood, however following the impact with the water, the aircraft is reported to have sunk rapidly,” a spokesman for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said.

Investigations and a preliminary coroner’s report is expected to be released in 30 days.

Cousins lost his first wife three years ago to cancer. He was reported to be marrying Bowden, the arts editor of the OK! magazine in the UK, in June.

His eldest son William was a campaigner against a hard Brexit, as the head of press for Open Britain.

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