All I want is to get home and see my children - Cork air crash survivor
Published 18/02/2011 | 05:00
A SURVIVOR of the Cork air disaster said yesterday that he just wants to get home to see his three children.
Speaking from his hospital bed, flanked by his wife Tara, father-of-three Mark Dickens said he had thought only about seeing his wife and children again as he hung upside down in the burning wreckage.
He said he felt the aircraft was too close to the ground when it came in to land and that a wing clipped the tarmac, flipping it over.
Now, all he can think about is being reunited at home with his young children.
"I have got three children, who are with their grandparents, who want to see mummy and daddy -- and all we want is to see them," he said.
Mr Dickens (40), from Kent in England, said he was now convinced that he and the other five survivors only escaped the Manx2 aircraft thanks to the skill and heroism of the rescue services.
Mr Dickens -- who is still being treated at Cork University Hospital (CUH) -- said he has been overwhelmed by the kindness of medical personnel and the Irish people since last Thursday's air tragedy in which six people died.
The 19-year-old Fairchild Metroliner crashed on its third landing attempt in dense fog.
Mr Dickens was travelling from Belfast to Cork for a business meeting as his company has interests in both cities.
"After the crash, I was thinking: 'I am alive.' I was lucky to be alive," Mr Dickens said.
"(But) I just focused on my children and seeing them again. At one stage, I could smell smoke and smell fuel, aviation fuel. So there was a concern that the plane might catch fire."
The businessman avoided the newspapers in the days after the accident -- but when he did look at the pictures he was amazed that anyone had survived the accident, such was the damage to the aircraft.
"It (the aircraft) is just not there anymore. There is a gaping hole forwards from where I was sitting. It is amazing that any of us got out alive. The fact that two or three people walked out is just absolutely amazing," he said.
Mr Dickens said he has a vivid recollection of the fateful last moments of Flight NM7100 as it made its third landing attempt.
"We came in and there was no great issue. I was waiting to land. As we came through the fog, or the cloud as I thought it was, I saw the runway. We were quite close, too close to the runway I thought.
"The next thing I recall we banked, the wing hit the runway and we flipped over. There was obviously lots of screaming and shouting.
"The next thing I remember, the plane was at rest. I was upside down, trapped under seats and people and wedged in.
"Once it came to rest, and I knew I couldn't move, I started to feel pain in my chest. I was having trouble breathing, so I tried to stay calm, and focus on keeping my breathing regulated," he said.
Mr Dickens said that the emergency services seemed to be at the crash site almost immediately.
"I did ask did everyone make it out, but I think I was (being) protected from that. My thoughts are now with those families of those people who didn't make it out," he said.
All the crash survivors are now expected to be out of hospital by early March.
Four of the six survivors -- Heather Elliot (53), Peter Cowley (31), Brendan Mallon (40) and Mr Dickens -- are still in CUH but are making steady progress.