'Gross negligence' behind crash

THE CORONIAL inquest into the deaths of pilot Michael O'Keefe and his passenger Josef Hainaut found the ultralight crash that killed the two men in 2010 at Tatham "occurred as a result of the gross negligence of Mr O'Keefe".

In his written findings, coroner Jeff Linden said there was "an unfortunate, albeit prevalent culture within recreational pilot groups not to report poor flying".

Mr Linden said one of Mr O'Keefe's flying instructors, Wayne Fisher, was negligent for not reporting his student's illegal flying to Recreational Aviation Australia (RAA) after he told him about a video he posted on YouTube showing him performing an illegal spin.

He highlighted the fact Mr O'Keefe was not trained for such manoeuvres and his licence precluded such moves.

In his recommendations, Mr Linden noted the need for legislation changes requiring the owners of aircraft to identify the pilot to police, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority or RAA.

He found Mr O'Keefe and Mr Hainaut died as a result of multiple injuries sustained when the ultralight they were in crashed into a paddock about 2.45pm on May 7.

After Mr Linden handed down his findings, the passenger's mother, Marie Hainaut, said he had made a lot of good recommendations to prevent a similar incident happening again.

The crash could have been avoided if one of many pilots who knew of Mr O'Keefe's dangerous flying reported him, she said.

"I'm devastated. I just can't believe that for so long people just sat on their hands and did nothing, even though they knew this young man was taking risks and flying dangerously," she said.

Copies of the findings would be sent to the Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and the state coroner's office.



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