News

Pilot trekked to find help after plane crash killed child

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

UPDATE 11:30am Monday: JOHN Crumpton, the Goonengerry-based pilot of the Maule M-5 four-seater which crashed on Saturday, was an "avid pilot" who had recently completed a long distance flying trip to north Queensland.

Mr Crumpton is expected to be interviewed formally by local police in the coming days about the circumstances surrounding the crash.

He is currently in Lismore Base Hospital in a stable condition.

The surviving passenger, a 34-year old father of the 11-year old girl who died in the crash, remains in a stable condition.

Local police have taken charge of the investigation.

Lead investigator, Richmond Local Area Command Detective Sergeant Russ Ewing, said evidence from the wreck and interviews with the pilot and surviving passenger would be passed on to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Police specialists working with local SES crews are preparing for an operation to retrieve the plane, still submerged upside down in the Clarence River.

The plane is now understood to have taken off from Casino Aerodrome early on Saturday morning, continuing to Murwillumbah to pick up the two passengers, and then travelled to the Tenterfield area.

It is believed the plane was tracking back towards Murwillumbah when it hit powerlines about 11am and crashed into the Clarence River at Ewingar.

Casino Aero Club president Russell Kennedy said when he heard about the crash he immediately did a "head count" of the planes and discovered Mr Crumpton's motorbike.

"That's when we realised the Maule was out flying and probably about 1pm [the crashed plane] was identified as a Maule."

Mr Kennedy described the Maule M-5 as a "very safe, well known plane."

 

ORIGINAL: THE pilot of a light plane that crashed into the Clarence River, killing an 11-year-old Murwillumbah girl, had to trek several kilometres to find help after helping free the child and her father from the wreck and getting them to shore.

The tragically doomed joy flight was returning to Murwillumbah from a day trip to Tenterfield on Saturday morning and was tracking the winding Clarence River at Ewingar, about 20km south of Tabulam when it crashed into the river.

Police have said the Maule M-5 four-seater struck low-level power lines that crossed the river. However, it is not clear whether that was the cause of the crash. An investigation team from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau arrived at the scene yesterday afternoon and were not taking anything for granted.

"If we start speculating on something that may have happened, we have the chance that we might disregard some evidence that tells us something different," ATSB spokesman Stephen Curry said.

"It's really important from our investigators perspective that they turn up there with a clear sky, look at all the evidence, and they use that to determine what happened."

The plane hit the water about 11am, with the child's 34-year-old father and the 53-year-old pilot from Goonengerry, near Mullumbimby, surviving the impact.

It is understood the pilot and the girl's father were able to free themselves and the girl from the wreck before the pilot trekked three to four kilometres cross-country to the nearest house to call for help.

FOUR-SEATER: A Maule M-5, similar to the plane that crashed.
FOUR-SEATER: A Maule M-5, similar to the plane that crashed.

Local SES, police, paramedics and the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter attended the scene after 1pm and found the plane upside down and almost completely submerged with only its wheels visible.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter inserted its medical team to the riverbank via winch to retrieve the girl's father who was later flown to Lismore Base Hospital in a serious, but stable condition.

The child was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are preparing a report for the coroner on her death.

The team of three Air Transport Safety Bureau investigators that arrived on the scene yesterday afternoon would assess the crash site and wreckage to understand how the plane struck the water and conduct interviews with the pilot, surviving passenger and any other witnesses, Stephen Curry said.

They would also retrieve the wreckage, study engine systems for possible faults or failures, and check for any other evidence suggesting what may have caused the crash - although it was unknown whether or not there was any black box style device on the plane.

A preliminary report would be released in about 30 days, with a final report taking as long as 12 months.

Mr Curry said it was too early to begin speculation on the cause of the crash.

CRASH SCENE: Crew winch a plane crash survivor on board the rescue chopper on Saturday.
CRASH SCENE: Crew winch a plane crash survivor on board the rescue chopper on Saturday. Westpac Rescue Lifesaver Helicopter

Topics:  editors picks plane crash



A to Z of Woolworths Marvel Heroes Super Discs

Woolworths Marvel Heroes Super Discs are the latest craze in collectables.

What is Woolworths latest collectable craze about?

Man flamed after labelling Byron Bay single girls 'stuck up'

Single man flamed on social media after labelling Byron Bay women 'loopy'.

"Most of the girls here are ... very stuck up, or just not right.

Comedy production hits Rochdale stage

Thoroughly relishing their roles as the three crotchety old veterans (performed by Co Gray Wilson, Jason Smith and John Taylor), they provide fascinating individual insights into three proud men who despite their frailties are determined be adventurous and joyful to the end.

Heroes is a comedy play by Gerald Sibleyras.

Local Partners

Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

IF AUSTRALIA does have a tall poppy syndrome, Mia Freedman has most certainly been a victim.

Comedy production hits Rochdale stage

Thoroughly relishing their roles as the three crotchety old veterans (performed by Co Gray Wilson, Jason Smith and John Taylor), they provide fascinating individual insights into three proud men who despite their frailties are determined be adventurous and joyful to the end.

Heroes is a comedy play by Gerald Sibleyras.

Stan our man for Archibald Prize

Stan Gilchrist in front of the portrait  East Ballina artist Brett Belot will enter in the Archibald Prize later this year.

Local face to be entered in prestigious national art prize

Mandy and Ellen will be just women like us in Nimbin

DUO: Mandy Nolan and Ellen Briggs bring their hit show Women Like Us to Nimbin.

Hit comedy show heading towards Nimbin

Chicago comes to Bangalow

CELL BLOCK TANGO: Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones in a scene from the 2002 film Chicago.

The next production by Bangalow Theatre Company

Model Bella Hadid's see-through dress shocks in Cannes

US model Bella Hadid attends the Cinema Against AIDS amfAR gala 2017 held at the Hotel du Cap, Eden Roc in Cap d'Antibes, France, 25 May 2017.

It’s like she’s become addicted to shock value.

Here's your chance to carp about feral pests

Carp might by great fun to catch but they're destroying Australia's watercourses.

Science in the Pub looks at carp and coral trees

SNEAK PEEK: What new shopping centre is going to look like

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the cinema and shopping complex on Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Mercato billed as regional NSW's most sustainable shopping complex

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Slaves in Byron: The dark side of housing crisis

Housing generic.

A darker side to Byron's economy

Bonville to become new housing hub

REZONING: Large areas of Bonville have been rezoned for residential

Land rezoning will turn farmland into housing

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!