herald

Sunday 19 February 2017

Irish woman fighting for life after plane crash on remote Australian island

A young Irish woman is fighting for her life after the light plane in which she was travelling crashed on an isolated beach in north-east Australia.

The 21-year-old tourist, who has not been named, was flying to a remote island off central Queensland. She is believed to have suffered head injuries. An English woman in her 20s was killed in the crash yesterday morning.

altitude

The incident occurred as the single-engine Cessna 172 Skyhawk was flying to Middle Island, off the small coastal town of Agnes Water.

The Queensland Ambulance Service said two planes were flying together when the one in front began to lose altitude.

The pilot of the crashed plane, Les Woodall (62), is fighting for his life. He has a head injury, abdominal and chest injuries and a broken leg.

A 13-year-old boy who was also in the plane was transported to nearby Rockhampton Hospital with a suspected broken leg. His parents are understood to have been travelling in the second aircraft.

Bystanders tried to resuscitate the victims while waiting for medics to arrive. The passengers were part of an excursion run by a company called 1770 Castaway, which runs survivor trips to the island. A message of condolence was posted on its Facebook page today.

"On behalf of everyone at 1770 Castaway, we offer our deepest condolences to the families and all the loved ones of those involved in the Middle Island tragedy. In respecting the due process of several investigations and in not wanting to pre-empt the outcome of those inquiries, we cannot offer any comment regarding the circumstances of the accident.

"We would ask that the privacy of all concerned be respected at this very difficult time. 1770 Castaway is offering all the investigators its full co-operation. Thank you."

Response

Police in Australia said officers from the Rockhampton Forensic Crash Unit and Criminal Investigation Branch would investigate with the relevant authorities.

Because of the remoteness of the crash site, it took authorities some time to reach the scene. LifeFlight, a rapid response rescue crew, confirmed the victims were tourists planning to stay on Middle Island.

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