Po­lice fear UK air­show crash toll could rise to 20


Two am­a­teur soc­cer play­ers on their way to match on a sum­mer af­ter­noon were among 11 peo­ple known to have died in the fiery crash of a vintage fighter jet in south­east­ern Eng­land. Po­lice fear the death toll will rise as the crash site is cleared.

The Hawker Hunter jet slammed onto a high­way Satur­day af­ter it failed to pull out of a loop ma­neu­ver dur­ing the Shore­ham Air­show, plow­ing through cars on the road and ex­plod­ing in a huge fire­ball. The wreck­age was sched­uled to be re­moved from the site, about 75 kilo­me­ters (45 miles) south of Lon­don, on Mon­day.

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Steve Barry of Sus­sex Po­lice told the BBC on Mon­day that he’d be sur­prised if the num­ber of deaths “doesn’t go above” the 11 cur­rently known, but “would be re­ally sur­prised if it would be more than 20.”

Among those con­firmed dead were Matthew Grim­stone and Ja­cob Schilt, both 23, trav­el­ing to­gether on their way to play in a soc­cer match. Per­sonal trainer Matt Jones, 24, was also killed, his fam­ily said.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity has be­gun re­view­ing safety pro­ce­dures but said that such dis­as­ters are very rare.

The pi­lot, for­mer Royal Air Force in­struc­tor An­drew Hill, 51, was in crit­i­cal con­di­tion. Po­lice is­sued a state­ment at the re­quest of his fam­ily ex­press­ing their dev­as­ta­tion and sad­ness for the loss of life.

“They send their prayers and heart­felt con­do­lences to the fam­i­lies of all those af­fected at this dif­fi­cult time,” the state­ment said.

The A27 high­way, which runs along the south coast, is ex­pected to re­main closed for days. Barry said the scene was dev­as­tat­ing.

“It’s about 400 yards (365 me­ters) of the dual car­riage­way and ex­tends into the air­field it­self,” Barry said. “And there is de­bris and dam­age lit­tered ev­ery­where.”

Author­i­ties have been map­ping and record­ing the scene as part of a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion. They plan to use a crane to lift the air­craft from the trees where it came to rest, but say it will be a del­i­cate op­er­a­tion.

“There is a sug­ges­tion that, there’s still fuel in the air­craft and the sta­tus of the ejec­tor seats sug­gests that there still may be some charge in them, so it’s ob­vi­ously very im­por­tant that that’s all made safe be­fore the air­craft is moved,” Barry said.


Emer­gency ser­vices work at the scene of Satur­day’s air crash on the A27 high­way near Shore­ham-by-the-Sea in south­east­ern Eng­land, Mon­day, Aug. 24.

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