News

Plane wreckage to be retrieved today

CRASH SCENE: Rescue crews from the Westpac rescue lifesaver helicopter winch up the injured passenger from the light plane crash at Ewingar on Saturday.
CRASH SCENE: Rescue crews from the Westpac rescue lifesaver helicopter winch up the injured passenger from the light plane crash at Ewingar on Saturday. Westpac Rescue Life Saver Helicopter

THE wreckage of the light plane that crashed on Saturday morning is expected to be retrieved from the Clarence River this morning in a major operation involving specialist police.

The Maule M-5 four seater is currently upside down and almost fully submerged in about 2m of water with only its wheels visible.

Lead investigator, Detective Sergeant Russell Ewing of Richmond Local Area Command, said Police Rescue crews had surveyed the crash scene on Sunday and again yesterday to plan an effective retrieval operation.

The terrain around the river where the plane crashed is marked by steep cliffs, which has forced emergency services crews to access the riverbank on foot.

Det Sergeant Ewing said it was hoped the plane would be hauled out of the water with the help of police divers and towed upstream.

It would be then collected at a point called Yates Crossing about 3km north of the crash site and put on the back of a truck.

The local SES crew from Tabulam was also expected to be involved in the operation.

Tabulam SES unit volunteer Heath O'Malley said the 20-volunteer crew was "there to support whichever organisation needs us".

Eight SES volunteers had supported the rescue operation on Saturday and on scene assistance and aiding communications between emergency services on the scene and their headquarters.

Det Sergeant Ewing said the pilot, 53-year-old John Crumpton had been spoken to by police about the crash at Lismore Base Hospital and would be formally interviewed as early as Thursday.

The surviving passenger, in a stable condition, would also be interviewed when possible.

There were no plans at this stage to release the names of the 11-year-old who died in the incident or her father, even though the family had been notified.

"Obviously everybody's in a very vulnerable state at the moment," Detective Sergeant Ewing said.

The Air Transport Safety Bureau had prepared to send an investigation team to the area on Sunday, but based on interviews of the pilot by local police "deemed it unnecessary", said an ATSB spokeswoman.

"Our investigation is continuing in consultation with police and the power company," she said.

"They have photos of the powerlines."

 

Upper Clarence River popular but treacherous for flying

THE Upper Clarence River has a history of flying accidents, according to Casino Aero Club president Russell Kennedy.

The river valley offers a diverse terrain for recreational pilots, including woodland, pasture, and rolling hills and cliffs, with the mighty Clarence presenting a spectacular feature from the sky.

Mr Kennedy said it was a popular area for pilots to fly over, but also a treacherous one due to the frequency of power lines.

"There's hidden wires all over the place," Mr Kennedy said.

"Some of the wires are up to 300 feet high; strung from high cliffs and rolling down.

"That river along there if you look into your history… there's been a lot of prangs.

"It's claimed a few."

Why the plane was flying so low is unknown, although Mr Kennedy said there were many possible reasons, including scouting for an emergency landing.

Mr Kennedy said the veteran pilot, Goonengerry resident John Crumpton, had stored his plane at the Casino Aerodrome for a little over a year.

The plane took off from there early on Sunday morning before picking up the 34-year-old father and 11-year-old daughter from Murwillumbah and continuing on to the Tenterfield area.

It was flying back in a general easterly direction when it crashed into the river about 11am, reportedly moments after striking power lines.

The 11-year-old girl died in the crash.

As soon as he received news about the crash, Mr Kennedy did a "head count" of the planes in hangars at Casino.

"That's when we realised [his] Maule was out flying, and probably about 1pm it was identified as a Maule," he said.

Mr Kennedy described Mr Crumpton as an "avid flyer" who had recently gone on an extended flight to north Queensland.

The Maule M-5 four seater owned by Mr Crumpton was also known as a safe and reliable plane.

"It can get in and out of tight places; a terrific performer," Mr Kennedy said.

"They use them at high altitudes because they're renowned for their horsepower. They're a tough old workhorse."

Mr Crumpton's plane, registration VH-HOG, was also well kept.

"My plane you would describe as average to good condition; this one was in showroom condition," Mr Kennedy said.

Topics:  clarence river plane crash



He served his country but died a lonely death

BEFORE: A photo of Walter Derrett's grave taken in 1934 and printed in the Northern Star.

One of the saddest stories Tales from the Grave has uncovered

Busy year for busy bees restoring neglected duck pond

From left, Mark Bailey and Derek Goodwin of South Lismore Duck Pond Landcare with the Mayor of Lismore Isaac Smith.

South Lismore Duck Pond wins grant to continue much-needed work

Gen Xers more likely to 'chuck a sickie' to go to the beach

One in 7 Australians are more likely to 'chuck a sickie' to go to the beach.

One in 7 Australian workers have taken advantage of sunny weather

Local Partners

Un-American tale makes Lion weakest link in Oscars line-up

PSYCHOLOGY researchers find US films and actors most likely to win accolades at the Oscars.

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Northern Rivers gig guide

PIRATE FLAG: The Hussy Hick's latest single is a crowd favourite that echoes a sentiment of political scepticism. Hear Pirate Flag at Tintenbar Upfront, Tintenbar Hall, tomorrow 7.30pm. $20.

What's on this week in local entertainment

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

Former Family Matters stare accused of child abuse

Reginald VelJohnson, left, and Darius McCrary arrive at the TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 19, 2009 in Universal City, Calif.

Darius McCrary has been accused of child abuse

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

$140k damage: landlord says property trashed, contaminated

He had what he calls "the tenants from hell"

Submarine, buses and 3000 tyres removed in $100K clean up

The list of things removed from this property is beyond astonishing

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!