Thursday 21 September 2017

Engine failure is 'likely cause' for Australia plane crash which left Irish woman fighting for her life

*Young Irish woman in critical condition
*Transferred to specialist unit in Brisbane
*British woman in her twenties killed
*Second plane witnessed incident
*'Miracle' people survived
*Investigations underway

Emergency services at the scene of the plane crash in Queensland in which an Irishwoman was seriously injured. Photos: LifeFlight
Emergency services at the scene of the plane crash in Queensland in which an Irishwoman was seriously injured. Photos: LifeFlight
The scene of the plane crash in Queensland in which an Irishwoman was seriously injured.

Luke Byrne and Denise Calnan

Authorities in Queensland are investigating engine failure as the likely cause of a light plane crash which has left an Irish woman (21) fighting for her life.

The private plane, which was carrying four passengers, crashed near Agnes Waters in Queensland yesterday killing one.

Pilot Les Woodall suffered extensive injuries.
Pilot Les Woodall suffered extensive injuries.

The crash, which occurred just before 11am local time, took place during an excursion to the remote Middle Island.

The Irish woman sustained a head injury. A spokesperson for Queensland Police Service told Independent.ie the woman has been transferred to a specialist unit in Brisbane to treat her injuries. The woman's condition is still listed as 'critical'.

An English woman in her 20s was killed in the crash.

"Police are now preparing a report on the deceased for the coroner and the aviation authority's investigation is underway," the spokesperson said.

The scene of the plane crash in Queensland in which an Irishwoman was seriously injured.
The scene of the plane crash in Queensland in which an Irishwoman was seriously injured.

"Preliminary information is suggesting something along the lines of engine failure but there has not been any confirmation."

According to local reports, the Queensland Ambulance Service said two planes were flying together when the one in front went down.

The incident was witnessed by the passengers on the plane behind.

Detective Inspector Jane Healy told local media the early investigations show a mechanical fault was to blame.

“The aircraft as it came in to land has what we believe is engine failure and crashed into the beach,” she told ABC radio.

Meanwhile, RACQ Capricorn Rescue Helicopter crewman Dave Patterson said he is amazed anyone survived the incident.

“The aircraft, once it hit the beach, rolled up and destroyed a lot of the cabin area so the fact there were survivors was incredible,” he told the Gladstone Observer.

It is understood bystanders tried to help the victims, with some performing CPR until emergency services arrived.

The crashed plane's pilot, named as Les Woodall (62), suffered head, abdominal and chest injuries and a broken leg and was also fighting for his life.

A 13-year-old boy, also a passenger, was transported to Rockhampton Hospital with minor injuries.

The passengers were part of an excursion run by a company called 1770 Castaway, which runs trips to the island.

A message of condolence was posted on its Facebook page.

"On behalf of everyone at 1770 Castaway, we offer our deepest condolences to the families and all the loved ones of those involved in the Middle Island tragedy.

"In respecting the due process of several investigations and in not wanting to pre-empt the outcome of those inquiries, we cannot offer any comment regarding the circumstances of the accident and we would ask that the privacy of all concerned be respected at this very difficult time.

"1770 Castaway is offering all the investigators its full co-operation. Thank you," it said.

Police in Australia said officers from the Rockhampton Forensic Crash Unit and Criminal Investigation Branch would investigate with the relevant authorities.

It is understood it took police some time to reach the scene because of the remoteness of the location. LifeFlight, a rapid response rescue crew, attended the scene of the crash. It said the victims were tourists planning to stay on the island.

The Central Queensland Plane Spotting Blog posted an image of the plane on its official Facebook page with details of the crash. They said their "thoughts and prayers are with those affected".

One woman who commented on the post was the daughter of the pilot, Les Woodall. After initially frantically requesting updates on his condition, she then confirmed she was in hospital with him and he was "stable".

Irish Independent

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