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Saturday 27 May 2017

Rapid reaction of emergency workers 'saved my son's life'

Salvage workers at Cork Airport as the plane's wreckage was lifted from the crash site yesterday. Photo: PA
Salvage workers at Cork Airport as the plane's wreckage was lifted from the crash site yesterday. Photo: PA

Barry Duggan, Ralph Riegel, Eimear Ni Bhraonain and Majella O'Sullivan

ONE of the survivors of the Cork Airport tragedy who was sitting directly behind the Spanish pilot when the plane crashed recalled the horrific last moments of the chaos on board flight NM 7100.



Peter Cowley (31), an engineer from Glanmire, Cork, somehow managed to survive the horror crash that claimed the lives of six others.

His father, Peter Snr, a well-known Cork golf club member, last night revealed his son suffered multiple serious injuries in the crash.

But the miracle survivor was able to reveal the last moments of the doomed flight to his father from his bed at Cork University Hospital.

Peter Snr credited the rapid response of the emergency services at the airport for saving his son's life and that of the other survivors.

"He was sitting straight behind the pilot. He had his jacket on. He said it was very warm, they were all getting warm at the time and he took his jacket off -- that is all that he remembers. Then it happened," Peter Snr told the Irish Independent.

As the Manx2 airline crashed off the runway, the pilot and co-pilot were killed along with four other passengers all seated around Peter.

But Peter was unable to remember anything after impact.

"He was carried from the plane and didn't realise what had happened until we spoke to him at the hospital. He has no recollection of the event itself," his father added.

The Cowley family said their son's life was saved by the quick reaction of the fire officers and emergency workers

"If the fire officers and workers and everyone else didn't react as quickly as they did, he probably wouldn't have been saved.

"They saved the lives of the passengers. We will always remember them for what they did for Peter and us," Peter Snr said.

Working in Northern Ireland as an engineer with Keystone, Peter suffered a broken neck and had part of his right ear severed.

Burning

He was yesterday undergoing plastic surgery and will have to wear a neck brace for at least 12 weeks.

He also suffered a broken collar bone, broken wrist, broken ribs and a punctured lung. His father added that he suffered some bruising to the brain.

Another survivor who escaped the burning aircraft was reunited with his grandmother last night -- just in time for her 85th birthday today. The family of Donal Walsh (22) -- who has cheated death twice in the past year -- had a tearful reunion in his grandmother's house after he was released from Cork University Hospital yesterday.

Donal, who was sitting at the back of the 19-seater plane, emerged from the wreckage with only cuts and bruises.

Thursday's horrific collision was the second time for Donal to survive an accident in the fog after his family were involved in a car crash last summer.

"There was a bad fog and we hit a sign after going off the road at the Kilmeaden Road," Donal's father John told the Irish Independent.

"We were in hospital after but Donal only had a few cuts and bruises," Donal's brother Ciaran added.

"The car went off the road, the weather was bad and my dad couldn't see this sign."

Another survivor -- mother-of-three Heather Elliot -- phoned her elderly mother from her hospital bed to let her know she was okay.

Heather (54) called her mother Roma Peare, who lives in Kinsale, before she underwent surgery at Cork University Hospital.

"That was the best thing when I heard her voice and when she was able to speak to me, I just thought, that's great."

Irish Independent

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