Ewingar, Yates Crossing, on the Clarence River, where SES and Police divers were trying to retrieve the plane that crashed on Saturday 12 April. Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw/The Northern Star
Ewingar, Yates Crossing, on the Clarence River, where SES and Police divers were trying to retrieve the plane that crashed on Saturday 12 April. Photo : Mireille Merlet-Shaw/The Northern Star Mireille Merlet-Shaw

New charge laid on Clarence River crash pilot

A FRESH charge has been laid against a Goonengerry pilot who crashed his ultralight into the Clarence River killing a Murwillumbah girl last April.

Kayla Whitten, 11, was killed on April 12, 2014, when the Maule M-5 light plane she was in struck a powerline and crashed into the Clarence River at Ewingar.

Following an investigation, 54-year-old John Patrick Crumpton was charged with manslaughter, causing reckless grievous bodily harm, flying an aircraft below 500 feet and reckless wounding.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau report on the incident released in January found that after hitting powerlines, the plane flipped and came to rest with the cabin upside down and underwater.

Both the pilot and Kayla's father, 36, were sitting in the front row and escaped through a forward door but could not free Kayla from the back of the flooded cabin.

Her body was eventually removed through a cockpit door but repeated resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.

Lismore Local Court this week heard a fresh charged had been laid against Crumpton under the Section 20 A1 of Civil Aviation Act.

Crumpton was charged with operating an aircraft reckless to endangering the life of a person.

The court heard there had been progressive discussions between the crown prosecutor and Crumpton's barrister Peter O'Connor.

Magistrate David Heilpern adjourned Crumpton's matters until April to allow for further negotiations between the defence and prosecution.

It is anticipated Crumpton will be committed for sentence at his next appearance.



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