A VICAR is appealing for the return of a bike ridden by his sons before their death in a helicopter crash which was stolen from a hospital.

The bike belonged to Reverend David Hill, and was used by his two sons before their death at the Grand Canyon in 2018.

Stuart and Jason Hill, from Worthing, died along with Stuart’s girlfriend Becky Dobson and newlyweds Ellie Udall, from Worthing, and Jonathan Udall, from Brighton.

All five passengers survived an initial crash, but died when the helicopter became a fireball after the fuel tank was punctured.

Reverend Hill, who works as Worthing Hospital chaplain, had left his £2,000 bike locked outside the hospital in Lyndhurst Road around 8.15am on Tuesday, July 19.

However, when he returned at 5.05pm that day, it was gone.

The Argus: The Scott Scale hardtail carbon bike was stolen The Scott Scale hardtail carbon bike was stolen

The bike, a Scott Scale hardtail carbon bike, had a distinctive white and yellow frame, silver pedals and a white saddle.

Reverend Hill said the bike was used by his sons before their death, and has “huge sentimental value”.

“This was the last bike my grown-up children rode before they went to America, where they were killed in the Grand Canyon,” he said.

“I am hoping the monetary value of the bike will be covered by insurance, but there is nothing that can replace the fact that this was a bike with huge sentimental value.

“The bike itself is worth around £2,000 but the emotional value is absolutely priceless. I am devastated it has been stolen. ”

Officers investigating the theft have carried out a number of enquiries to try and recover the bike, and are now hoping that releasing the CCTV footage could lead to identification of the suspect shown using an unknown implement to break the lock and make off from the scene on the bike.

They are also appealing for anyone who may see the bicycle, either in the area or being offered for sale, to get in touch so it can be returned to its rightful owner.

Anyone who has any information relating to the theft is asked to report to police online or by calling 101, quoting serial 62 of 10/08.

The Argus: Stuart and Jason Hill, who died in the Grand Canyon helicopter crash Stuart and Jason Hill, who died in the Grand Canyon helicopter crash

The Argus: The bike was stolen outside Worthing Hospital The bike was stolen outside Worthing Hospital

Reverend Hill added: “Sometimes we hear people say the police do not get involved in small matters of theft, but they have proved to me that they do care, and I appreciate their efforts.”

At an inquest in Horsham in November last year, coroner Penelope Schofield concluded all five people died as a result of a tragic accident after pilot Scott Booth lost control in a violent gust of wind.

Mr Booth, who lost both legs in the crash, had failed his annual pilot check shortly before the crash, the inquest heard.

At the inquest, Reverend Hill said the trauma of losing his “irreplaceable” sons has been life-draining.

"We wish with every fibre of our being that this had never happened,” he said.

His wife Sandra said the couple has suffered every parent’s nightmare.

Jason, 31, was a solicitor, while his brother Stuart, 30, was a car salesman.