Fourkilled­as­plane plun­gesin­to­peat bog

Bray People - - NEWS -

Oc­to­ber 2007

A TRIP in a four seater light air­craft turned to tragedy when it nosed dived into a bog in the Wick­low Mountains, killing three mem­bers of the one fam­ily and a young 14 year old pas­sen­ger trav­el­ling with them.

Pi­lot Sharif Booz, his Ir­ish-born wife Mar­garet, their 14 year old son Ay­man and his friend, Char­lie Froud, were the only oc­cu­pants of the Piper-PA 28 plane and all per­ished in the accident.

The plane left Glouces­ter Air­port just be­fore 10 a.m. on Satur­day morn­ing and it’s be­lieved they were trav­el­ling to Kil­rush air­field in County Kil­dare to meet some Ir­ish rel­a­tives in New­bridge. The last radar sight­ing of the ves­sel was at 12.17 p.m. on Satur­day.

Gar­daí were alerted about the miss­ing air­craft in the evening and de­tails of its last radar po­si­tion in the Wick­low Mountains were handed over to them.

Once news broke about the miss­ing plane, the gar­daí re­ceived a num­ber of calls, in­clud­ing one from a hill­walker who heard what they thought was an air­craft in dif­fi­culty in an area south of Hol­ly­wood ear­lier that same day.

At 9.50 p.m. The Glen of Imaal Moun­tain Res­cue Team and the Dublin/ Wick­low Moun­tain Res­cue Team were re­quested to aid in the search of the air­craft last seen over the Wick­low Mountains.

Moun­tain res­cue per­son­nel worked along­side the Coast­guard to try and fi­nalise the search area, while res­cue teams be­gan search­ing forestry tracks in the area.

With dark­ness de­scend­ing it was de­cided to hold off from a full-scale search un­til first light Sun­day morn­ing.

On Sun­day morn­ing at 7 a.m. the two Wick­low based moun­tain res­cue teams in co­op­er­a­tion with the Gar­daí, the coast­guard and other res­cue teas like SEMRA, Mournes Moun­tain Res­cue Team and The Search and Res­cue Dogs As­so­ci­a­tion (SARDA) and the Civil De­fence all set off to lo­cate the air­craft and the four pas­sen­gers on board.

The moun­tain res­cue teams were dis­patched to the moun­tain­ous area from Cor­riebracks, Lobawn and the Sug­ar­loaf stretch­ing south of the Bless­ing­ton Lakes as far as the Glen of Imaal where a low fly­ing air­craft in trou­ble was spot­ted the pre­vi­ous day.

Sadly at 9.30 a.m. mem­bers dis­patched as part of a rapid re­sponse moun­tain res­cue unit lo­cated the miss­ing air­craft, em­bed­ded in peat at Cor­riebracks near Hol­ly­wood. There were no sur­vivors. All of the de­ceased are from Lower Almonds-bury, Bris­tol. ex­plo­sion of trapped gas, smoke and vapours oc­curred in the burn­ing build­ing that morn­ing, the sud­den surge of heat - pos­si­bly as high as 1,000C - over­com­ing the two fire­fight­ers.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have re­port­edly dis­cov­ered that the team was us­ing a com­pressed air foam sys­tem (CAFS), which a Dublin based fire­man said would not have been ap­pro­pri­ate for a ‘ hot’-house fire.

In a flash-over, sim­i­lar to a back­draft (where the sud­den ad­di­tion of oxy­gen to fire can cause an ex­plo­sion), in­tense heat causes par­ti­cles of gas in the en­closed area to ig­nite seem­ingly out of nowhere.

The phe­nom­e­non of el­e­ments of fire ap­pear­ing in the mid­dle of smoke is known as ‘danc­ing an­gels’.

‘For com­part­ment fires CAFS has no cool­ing prop­er­ties. It can be sent in through the window at the fire to knock it out fast, but as for go­ing in to hot-house fires I wouldn’t even think about it,’ said a fire­fighter work­ing in Dublin.

‘ There is a par­tic­u­lar course for the use of the sys­tem within an en­closed area,’ said an­other source. ‘ This was not done for Bray.’ A mem­ber of the fire ser­vice in Bray has said that no train­ing on CAFS was ever de­liv­ered at the Bray station.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the dou­ble tragedy of Septem­ber 2007 has es­tab­lished that the two men were over­come by an in­tense surge of heat, said to be over 1,000C, which ren­dered them un­con­scious.

The pre­cise cause of the fire­fight­ers’ deaths has still not been of­fi­cially con­firmed by Gar­dai for op­er­a­tional rea­sons.

Sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tions are be­ing car­ried out by the Health and Safety Author­ity (HSA) and Wick­low County Coun­cil to es­tab­lish whether cer­tain per­son­nel at Wick­low fire ser­vice should be pros­e­cuted for reck­less en­dan­ger­ment.

The Garda in­quiry has al­ready con­cluded that fire­fight­ers at Bray station were not given ac­cess to proper equip­ment, train­ing and re­sources. The HSA is ex­pected to re­port that Wick­low fire ser­vice broke a num­ber of health and safety reg­u­la­tions.

Part of the garda in­ves­ti­ga­tion is fo­cus­ing on a hose used by the two men which burst during the in­ci­dent.

‘Noth­ing is 100 per cent fire proof,’ said a source. ‘ There was in­tense heat in that build­ing which could have caused the dam­age.’

Two ar­rests have been made within the last two months in con­nec­tion with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with one more per­son ex­pected to be ar­rested be­fore its con­clu­sion. The two peo­ple quizzed on sus­pi­cion of reck­less en­dan­ger­ment were re­leased with­out charge.

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