Fourkilledasplane plungesintopeat bog
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.