Powerscourt owner fights for life as one killed in air crash
Published 11/04/2010 | 05:00
DOCTOR Michael Slazenger, heir to the multi-million sportswear fortune, was fighting for his life last night following a tragic accident on an airstrip beside his Powerscourt estate.
The multi-millionaire was travelling in a light aircraft when it crashed on the Co Wicklow estate.
Dr Slazenger, 69, a retired anaesthetist, was found to be in a critical condition at the crash scene and it was deemed necessary that he be airlifted by emergency helicopter to Tallaght Hospital. He was later transferred to St James's Hospital.
A 66-year-old male passenger on the aircraft, whose name has not been released, was killed instantly.
Sources say the two men boarded the plane after the 66-year-old asked the Powerscourt owner to take them on a pleasure flight around the surrounding area of Wicklow.
It is the latest tragedy for the family and comes three decades after a fire gutted the 16th century stately home.
The accident happened at 3.10pm yesterday and emergency services, including gardai, ambulance and coastguard, employed a rapid response.
Mr Slazenger was treated at the scene before being airlifted to hospital.
The two were travelling in a single-engine two-seater aircraft and it is believed that Mr Slazenger, who has a pilot's licence, was flying the Irish-registered plane.
Golfers near the scene saw the plane hitting a tree before bursting into flames. A doctor among the golfers ran to the aircraft and administered emergency aid.
The 69-year-old Michael Slazenger was the son of sports heir Ralph Slazenger who moved to Ireland with his family in 1953 when he purchased Durrow Abbey in Co Laois.
An aviation enthusiast, he moved to the 4,000-acre Powerscourt estate in 1961 where he built an airstrip in 1974.
In November 1974 a fire broke out on the top floor and by the morning the main part of the house was a shell. The fire destroyed priceless furnishings and artefacts.
Firemen and estate workers managed to save some of the valuables but most of the priceless heritage was destroyed. Undaunted, Ralph Slazenger and his son Michael restored one wing of the house.
But, when Ralph and his wife Gwendoline were robbed at gunpoint by a gang, he decided to leave Powerscourt and went to live in the Isle of Man -- leaving the running of the estate to members of the family headed by Michael.