herald

Thursday 24 May 2018

Boy (7) and pilot die after plane 'went down like a torpedo'

Emergency services at the scene of the crash of a Cessna Caravan near Clonbullogue in Offaly
Emergency services at the scene of the crash of a Cessna Caravan near Clonbullogue in Offaly
Emergency services at the scene

A pilot and a seven-year-old boy have died in a horror plane crash.

The light aircraft crashed "straight down like a torpedo" into bogland in Co Offaly.

The crash happened yesterday afternoon shortly after 16 parachutists had jumped from it.

The plane had taken off from the Clonbullogue Airfield, near Edenderry, just before 2.30pm.

However, an eyewitness told the Herald that, a short time later, he saw the plane flying low overhead.

"I heard a terrible roaring and it went straight down like a torpedo," Jimmy Slattery said.

Stunt

Emergency services worked tirelessly at the scene of the crash all evening, and the bodies of the two victims were recovered just before darkness fell at around 10pm last night.

They were taken to the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore for a post mortem examination.

There were unconfirmed reports that the young boy is the son of a member of the local parachute club.

The pilot is believed to be from the UK.

Soon after take-off, the parachutists jumped from the aircraft. There was then "a terrible roar" as it lost height and crashed into the ground.

The plane was located about two kilometres from the airfield in bogland between Edenderry and Daingean.

Speaking about what he witnessed, Mr Slattery, who lives near the parachute club, said he was out walking his dog and saw the plane take off from the airfield.

"I've seen them thousands of times," he said.

He thought nothing was unusual except that the plane seemed to be flying very close to the ground.

"I thought he was doing a stunt, but I thought he was leaving it very late to turn around.

"However, I knew the plane was in the wrong area.

"When it hit the tree line the tail moved and I knew there was something wrong," he said. "Then I heard a terrible roaring and it went straight down like a torpedo."

"That roar will live with me for a while," he added.

He immediately rang 999 and the parachute club to let them know the location of the crash site.

Meanwhile, another local resident Declan Burns (49) said he understood the plane had just dropped off the parachutists and was heading back to the airfield when something went terribly wrong and the plane - understood to be a Cessna Caravan - "just nose-dived".

Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Unit remained at the site of the crash last night.

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