‘Mom, let me die do­ing what I love’ Mother re­counts fi­nal talk with son be­fore fa­tal plane crash

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Damion Mitchell Edi­tor – Ra­dio & On­line damion.mitchell@glean­erjm.com

WEEKS AFTER the tragic death of her 19-year-old son in the Green­wich Town, St An­drew, plane crash, Dawn Singh-Gil­more walks around her Dis­cov­ery Bay house a bro­ken mother. But she is try­ing to con­sole her­self with the con­vic­tion that Dan­shu­var Gil­more died do­ing what he loved. From an early age, Dan­shu­var had made up his mind: he wanted to be the great­est pi­lot ever and he wanted to make his mother proud and his father, Daniel, too. It’s why, over the years, he ac­quired all things avi­a­tion – books, bags, and a bed­room full of flight-sim­u­la­tion ap­pa­ra­tus. “He would read a lot, he would go on YouTube, he would do sim­u­la­tions, and ev­ery op­por­tu­nity that he got as a child, he would be in­ter­ested,” she said. In fact, Singh-Gil­more says Dan­shu­var be­came rest­less after leav­ing Ja­maica and en­rolled in a Mi­ami high school be­cause he felt that the sub­jects he was sit­ting were not pre­par­ing him to live his avi­a­tion dream. To make up, Singh-Gil­more said that on each oc­ca­sion they trav­elled, her son would find him­self in the cock­pit of the air­plane at the end of the flight, en­gag­ing pi­lots or the air­line crew. Even­tu­ally, he would dis­con­tinue school­ing in the United States and re­turn to Ja­maica to en­rol at Holland High, but the rest­less­ness con­tin­ued for the same rea­son, even while Dan­shu­var was pre­par­ing for his Caribbean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate ex­am­i­na­tions. But Singh-Gil­more said her son would light up when she took him from Dis­cov­ery Bay to Kingston and drove past the Tin­son Pen aero­drome. “Ev­ery time we drove to Kingston, he would say, ‘Mommy, I’m go­ing to be fly­ing one of those planes one day’,” she said slowly, her en­ergy seem­ingly wan­ing.

EF­FORTS TO DIS­SUADE

Singh-Gil­more said that be­cause of the in­her­ent risks, she tried many times to dis­suade him, but Dan­shu­var never re­lented and Tin­son Pen was where he wanted to be trained. “I lived that fear, but his father was very ac­com­mo­dat­ing and he en­cour­aged him: ‘Son, pur­sue your dream’.” Sis­ters Abi­gail and Ale­cia were also 100 per cent be­hind Dan­shu­var, and so Singh-Gil­more said that de­spite her fear, she even­tu­ally gave in. At the end of ground school at the Caribbean Avi­a­tion Train­ing Cen­tre last De­cem­ber, Singh-Gil­more said her son re­turned ex­cel­lent grades but that that did not erase her fear. How­ever, on one oc­ca­sion last year, as she dropped him off for his classes, he in­tro­duced her to his flight in­struc­tor, Jonathan Wor­ton, and she felt more as­sured her son was in safe com­pany. Dawn Singh-Gil­more speaks of the day her son died: I was sick to the gut when I saw what was hap­pen­ing and to know that my son was back there.

Not­with­stand­ing, al­most a year later, on Novem­ber 9, a day be­fore tragedy struck, Singh-Gil­more re­calls driv­ing along the high­way into Kingston, again try­ing to con­vince her son to dis­con­tinue pur­su­ing a ca­reer in avi­a­tion.

“He turned to me and said, ‘Mommy, let me die do­ing what I love’, and I stopped talk­ing,” she said, now ut­terly con­vinced that noth­ing could change his mind.

DAY OF FA­TAL FLIGHT

Just a day later, en route to the flight school, Singh-Gil­more said for the first time ever, Dan­shu­var told her that he didn’t feel like fly­ing that day.

How­ever, Singh-Gil­more said she en­cour­aged him to go but not to fly if it was windy or rain­ing. That would be his last flight. He de­parted the car, beg­ging her to pick him up promptly at 3 p.m., promis­ing to call her at 2 p.m. to re­mind her.

At 2:14 p.m., Singh-Gil­more would re­ceive the call she most feared: her son, his best friend Ra­mone Forbes, and Wor­ton were in­volved in a crash. It was fa­tal.

Dan­shu­var and his flight in­struc­tor died on im­pact as the Cessna air­plane burst into flames.

Forbes was pulled from the wreck­age and taken to hos­pi­tal but died eight hours later.

Singh-Gil­more rushed to the scene to live a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I was sick to the gut when I saw what was hap­pen­ing and to know that my son was back there,” she said, re­call­ing that there was a huge crowd as emer­gency re­spon­ders tried to ex­tin­guish the burn­ing wreck­age of the plane.

She has since re­cov­ered the burnt rem­nants of the watch her son was wear­ing and his parched driver’s li­cence, items she plans to trea­sure in a small ‘mu­seum’ she in­tends to make at her home in mem­ory of her son.

Ahead of his fu­neral this Satur­day at 11 a.m. at the Ocho Rios Bap­tist Church in St Ann, Singh-Gil­more says that the fam­ily has also de­cided to es­tab­lish a schol­ar­ship fund in his hon­our, as well as pro­vide a tro­phy for the most out­stand­ing stu­dent pi­lot at the Caribbean Avi­a­tion Train­ing Cen­tre.

CON­TRIB­UTED

PHOTO BY RAY­MOND SIMP­SON

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