independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Man trapped beneath dead pilot seeks €1.7m

The wreckage of the plane that crashed as it approached Connemara Airport

A MAN has told how he was trapped under the body of a dead pilot for two hours following a plane crash.

Businessman Kevin Barry Jnr, who suffered extensive fractures and a brain injury as a result of the crash, said rescuers did not notice he was in the cockpit until he called out.

"The plane was pushing on my head, I could not breathe. I felt my strength going. There was also the fear of explosion," he told the High Court.

"I turned to God and within half an hour they cut the plane apart and the pressure lifted off my head and chest."

Mr Barry, of Clifden, Co Galway, has sued various parties in relation to the crash. The case is before the High Court for assessment of damages only.

He was among a group of Galway businessmen returning from the Aran Islands when the single-engined Cessna crashed on July 5, 2007 as it approached Connemara Airport.

The pilot, Matt Masterson (59), from Terenure, Dublin, and accountant Paul McNamee (57), from Loughrea, Co Galway, died in the accident.

Opening the case yesterday, senior counsel James Connolly said that on approaching to land, the plane hit a small outcrop, bounced 100ft into the air, cartwheeled and crashed.

The left wing severed, coming to rest on the right side of the fuselage. The engine also detached.

Mr Barry's case is against the legal representative of the pilot; Lancton Taverns Ltd of SCD House, Waterloo Road, Dublin, and its director David Courtney; Hennessy Aviation Services Ltd of Beldaragh, Naul, Co Dublin; the Aer Arann Group and Galway Aviation Services Ltd of Inverin, Co Galway.

Father-of-three Mr Barry is seeking general damages for pain and suffering as well as €1.7m for past and future loss of earnings in relation to several businesses and investments along with expenses.

Dived

It is claimed Mr Barry suffered serious personal injuries including a fractured skull, fractures to his ribs and injuries to his chest and hand.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that Mr Barry, who had been an active businessman and accountant, now has poor short-term memory and his vocabulary is half what it was.

Mr Barry told the court he was sitting in the co-pilot's seat for the seven-minute flight. He said the plane came out of the clouds at about 1,000ft but the airport was not in front as the pilot expected.

"I could see the airport to the left about a mile away. The pilot dived down to the airport like in a film. The plane levelled very low and very fast. The engine had stopped and the pilot was trying to control the plane. The game was up," he said.

He added that when he regained consciousness an hour later, the dead pilot was on top of him.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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