herald

Friday 25 May 2018

'I just can't believe it' - Community in shock after tragic Kasper (7) dies in plane horror

Members of the Gardai and an Air Accident Investigation Unit examine the wreckage
Members of the Gardai and an Air Accident Investigation Unit examine the wreckage

Tributes have been paid to the seven-year-old boy who died in a tragic plane crash

Kasper Kacprzac, a pupil at Sacred Heart of Jesus NS in Blanchardstown, was killed alongside UK pilot Niall Bowditch when their plane nosedived into a forest in Co Offaly.

The horrific accident is believed to have happened just minutes after the youngster's dad and 15 others had safety parachuted to the ground.

Kasper, whose family is Polish, lived in the Huntstown area of Dublin 15.

His father, Kris, is a regular parachutist and instructor with the Irish Parachute Club.

He made his scheduled jump from the plane shortly before it "torpedoed" to the ground.

Destroyed

The bodies of Kasper and Mr Bowditch were recovered from the wreckage in an isolated bogland near Clonbullogue, at about 10pm on Sunday night, just before darkness fell.

Staff at little Kasper's primary school were visibly upset yesterday, as they learned the terrible news that Kasper had died. Residents in the close-knit Dublin community also expressed their disbelief that the young child from their area had died so tragically.

"I just can't believe it," said Huntstown mother Caroline Anderson. "As a mother myself, I can only imagine what this poor boy's parents are going through. They must be absolutely destroyed. All I can do is offer my sincerest condolences.

"I've no doubt that the people living in this estate will do everything they can to help this family cope with their tragic loss."

The plane that crashed in Offaly
The plane that crashed in Offaly

A Polish woman living in Huntstown Wood was brought to tears upon hearing the news.

"It's just so sad. I didn't know the boy or his family, but my heart goes out to them. To hear in detail what happened to everyone involved is extremely upsetting," she said.

Another neighbour said she's sure that the many children within the Dublin West estate have lost a friend.

"There are dozens of children always playing outside their homes around here," she said.

"I don't recognise the little boy, but I've no doubt that many of the kids here do."

Local representatives also offered their condolences.

Members of the Gardai and an Air Accident Investigation Unit examine the wreckage
Members of the Gardai and an Air Accident Investigation Unit examine the wreckage

"I'm sure the community will now rally round the family and lend its full support," Councillor Tania Doyle said.

"We cannot imagine the family's grief and can only stand by them and support them."

Shocked

Fingal Mayor Mary McCamley added: "I'm just so shocked and saddened to hear this news.

"I'm extremely sorry that this family has to experience such a devastating loss, but Huntstown is a very good community to live in and I'm sure they will do whatever they can for them.

"I'm on the board of Huntstown Community Centre and I've been in that boy's school numerous of times.

"I'm sure they will also rally around this family and treat the situation with the utmost respect and sensitively."

The aircraft had been scheduled to land at Clonbullogue Airfield, but lost contact at around 2pm. At this stage there is nothing to suggest that the pilot attempted to contact air traffic control or send out a distress signal when the aircraft got into difficulty.

Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) were last night continuing to examine the wreckage of the Cessna aircraft, which will be brought to the unit's facility in Gormanstown for a thorough technical examination.

Investigators have not yet established if the aeroplane, which was built in 2005, was equipped with a cockpit voice recorder, although a source with knowledge of such aircraft said that smaller planes are not usually required to have such recording devices.

The cause of the crash has not yet been established, and it may take investigators several weeks to determine the circumstances surrounding the tragic incident.

Speed

"It appears that the aircraft crashed into bogland at speed, which made it difficult for emergency services to recover the two fatalities and the wreckage," a source said.

"However, after several hours, the two casualties were recovered from the front of the aircraft."

Meanwhile, it is understood that relatives of the deceased pilot will arrive in Ireland today.

Mr Bowditch is understood to be well-known in the area and had stayed in a local bed and breakfast. He was a very experienced pilot.

It comes as parts of the Cessna aircraft were moved to a local warehouse to allow for a forensic examination.

It is believed that part of the plane may be more than four metres under the surface of the bog.

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