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