herald

Thursday 31 July 2014

I was trapped under dead pilot for hours in air crash tragedy

A MAN has told the High Court that he was trapped under the body of a dead pilot for two hours following an air crash.

Businessman Kevin Barry Jnr, who suffered extensive fractures, including a brain injury, said rescuers did not even notice he was in the cockpit until he called out.

"The plane was pushing on my head I could not breathe. I felt my strength going. There was also the fear of explosion.

"I turned to God and within half an hour they cut the plane apart and the pressure lifted on my head and chest," he told the High Court.

He was among a group of Galway businessmen who arranged to take a demonstration flight aboard a Cessna Caravan single engine plane. They were returning from lunch on the Aran islands when the crash occurred on July 5, 2007, as the plane was approaching to land at Connemara Airport.

The pilot, Matt Masterson (59) from Terenure, Dublin, and accountant Paul McNamee (57) from Loughrea, Co Galway, died in the accident.

Opening the case yesterday, senior counsel James Connolly said on approaching to land, the plane struck a small outcrop, bounced 100ft into the air, cartwheeled and crashed.

The left wing severed, coming to rest on the right-hand side of the fuselage. The engine also detached.

Mr Barry Jnr of Clifden, Co Galway, has sued various parties in relation to the crash.

The case is before the High Court for assessment of damages only.

Mr Barry's case is against the legal representative of the pilot; Lancton Taverns Ltd of SCD House, Waterloo Road, Dublin, and its director David Courtney; Hennessy Aviation Services Ltd of Beldaragh, Naul, Co Dublin; the Aer Arann Group and Galway Aviation Services Ltd of Inverin, Co Galway.

Mr Barry Jnr, a father of three, is seeking general damages for pain and suffering as well as a further €1.7m for past and future loss of earnings in relation to several businesses and investments along with expenses.

In the accident, it is claimed Mr Barry Jnr suffered serious personal injuries including a fractured skull as well as fractures to his ribs and injuries to his chest and hand.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told Mr Barry Jnr, who prior to the accident was a highly motivated and active businessman and accountant, now has poor short-term memory and his vocabulary is only half what it once was and he has daily apprehensions of making mistakes.

Mr Barry Jnr told the court he was sitting in the co-pilot's seat for the seven-minute flight. He said the aeroplane came out of the clouds at about one thousand feet but the airport was not in front as the pilot expected.

"I could see the airport to the left about a mile away. The pilot dived down to the airport like in a film. The plane levelled very low and very fast over the airstrip. The engine had stopped and the pilot was trying to control the plane. The game was up," he said.

He added when he woke up an hour later the dead pilot was on top of him.

After the accident he said he had to learn to walk again and now suffers from claustrophobia and struggles to find words when speaking.

The case continues.

hnews@herald.ie

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