TRAGEDY!

In­struc­tor, stu­dent per­ish in plane crash; fam­ily mem­bers shocked

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Jodi-Ann Gilpin Gleaner Writer

THE CESSNA 172 air­craft, with two stu­dents and their in­struc­tor, crashed shortly af­ter take-off from the Tin­son Pen Aero­drome in Kingston yes­ter­day, end­ing lives and dreams, shat­ter­ing the hopes and joy of many, in­clud­ing the fam­ily on whose house the plane crashed in Green­wich Town, Kingston 13.

Fam­ily mem­bers who ar­rived on the scene, along with on­look­ers, did not hold back the tears and emo­tions as they tried to di­gest what was a pic­ture of dis­as­ter and grief. They were at­tacked by the stench of burn­ing flesh and smoke em­a­nat­ing from the wreck­age.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer at the Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force Stephanie Lind­say said that one of the stu­dents was bat­tling for his life in hospi­tal, while the in­struc­tor, along with the other stu­dent, had died.

Last night, Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer Dr Win­ston De La Haye also told The Gleaner that the stu­dent pi­lot, who is crit­i­cally in­jured, was ex­pected to be taken to the in­ten­sive care unit.

“He be­came con­scious enough to give a his­tory to doc­tors at KPH (Kingston Pub­lic Hospi­tal). He’s now se­dated, with burns to 60 per cent of his body, bone frac­tures, eye trauma, and, ob­vi­ously, in­hala­tion in­juries from any fumes he is likely to have in­haled,” De La Haye said.

Keith Clarke, the man res­i­dents say was one of the

many per­sons who rushed to the scene to as­sist the vic­tims, said it was a fright­en­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that would stay with him for a long time.

“We hear a sound, but be­cause is a reg­u­lar ting fi di plane dem give off sounds, we never made any­thing of it be­cause the school is right there. By the time we run over, we start throw wa­ter. All sand we throw. I heard one of the man try­ing to talk, and den we start to wet him up and fight to get him out and put him on top of the plane. Af­ter that, mi go with the po­lice to the hospi­tal and come back. Mi just hope seh him make it,” said the res­i­dent.

Lin­ton Beck­ford, who now re­sides in the United States, said that while he was a stu­dent at the school, he got the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with the late in­struc­tor. Beck­ford said it was a sad day for him, along with many of his col­leagues.

“He’s very dis­ci­plined. He’s not a guy who talks a lot. Very good guy. A cry mi waa cry be­cause is a per­son that close to me like that. I spoke to him two weeks ago. Me and this per­son fly to­gether. I trusted him with my life, so we have a level of re­spect for him. I’m all the way in New York and mi a tell you seh it rough,” he said.

TRAU­MATIC EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Leader of the Op­po­si­tion Por­tia Simp­son Miller, who is also the mem­ber of par­lia­ment for St An­drew South West­ern, where the tragedy oc­curred, was close to tears as she ob­served the scene. She told jour­nal­ists that it was a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence for fam­ily mem­bers in ad­di­tion to mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

“I can’t even tell you how I feel. I am over­whelmed by what has hap­pened. It is sad. I would like to ex­press to mem­bers of the fam­ily my con­do­lences. It is not easy, and it must be hard for mem­bers of the fam­ily as it is for mem­bers of the com­mu­nity,” the op­po­si­tion leader said.

“I hope that the mem­bers of the fam­ily, in weeks or months to come, will find some com­fort that although this dis­as­ter hap­pened, their fam­ily lived to a cer­tain age,” she con­tin­ued.

Spokesper­son at the Ja­maica Fire Bri­gade Emilio Ebanks said there were no re­ports of res­i­dents be­ing in­jured.

“We got a call at ap­prox­i­mately

1:34 p.m. that a plane had crashed in the Green­wich Town area. We re­sponded im­me­di­ately – two units from York Park and the other from Trench Town. When they ar­rived on the scene, we sent an­other unit. What we were told is that the plane de­vel­oped me­chan­i­cal prob­lems shortly af­ter take-off and was re­turn­ing to base,” he said.

“There were no in­juries to any per­sons on the ground, so I think it is safe for us to as­sume that no one was in the house based on where we see the plane has landed. If per­sons were in the house, there would have been in­juries.”

In the mean­time, the Ja­maica Civil Avi­a­tion Author­ity, in a re­lease, said a team from its Flight Safety Depart­ment had been dis­patched to start in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the ac­ci­dent.

Up to press time last night, the po­lice had not re­leased the names of the in­struc­tor and the stu­dent who died in the crash.

PHO­TOS BY JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Op­po­si­tion Leader Por­tia Simp­son Miller is over­whelmed by the plane crash.

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Po­lice, along with fire­fight­ers, at the plane crash scene.

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