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Friday 13 December 2019

Brother of cadet killed in plane crash to follow him into Air Corps

Caroline Crawford

THE brother of a young cadet tragically killed in a training exercise in 2009 has applied to join the Air Corps, his family has revealed.

Christopher Jevens (18) will commemorate his older brother David by joining the same cadetship David was training with until his death in a plane crash in October 2009.

Speaking after the inquest into the deaths of their son and Captain Derek Furniss yesterday, Liz Jevens said it had been the dream of both her sons to fly with the Air Corps.

"David never had any fear of flying and I was never afraid for him until the accident happened," she said.

"Now Christopher is planning on going into the Air Corps -- it's his dream and I can't take it away from him."

Donal Jevens added: "The Air Corps is going to be a safer place as a result of the changes since David's death and we're happy for Christopher to join."

The inquest into the deaths of Cadet Jevens (22), from Glynn, Co Wexford, and Capt Furniss (32), from Rathfarnham in Dublin, returned separate verdicts for the pair yesterday.

It returned a majority verdict of accidental death in the case of Cadet Jevens and unanimously recorded an open verdict in the case of Capt Furniss, who had been in control of the plane.

The family revealed how they had recently travelled to Cornamona to the site of the crash that claimed David's life.

"It's so peaceful and beautiful out there. We really feel a pull to the place now," said Ms Jevens.

Both men died on October 12, 2009, when their PC-9 plane crashed in Cornamona, Co Galway, during a training accident.

Describing the effect of "somatogravic illusion", which caused Capt Furniss to become confused and change the direction of the plane towards the ground, coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin said: "He thought the plane was going up and up and he tried to bring it down -- this was an illusion. Had he kept going up, he would have escaped the terrain."

The coroner also made reference to the weather, which was described by one local witness as the worst fog conditions he had experienced in 40 years.

The coroner gave the jury three options to consider: misadventure, accidental or an open verdict. He added that misadventure would not apply to Cadet Jevens, as he was not in control of the aircraft at the time.

He added that the Air Corps had lost two inspiring officers. Dr McLoughlin described Capt Furniss as probably the Air Corps's most professional pilot, adding that Cadet Jevens was possibly the best upcoming cadet in training.

The inquest heard that a number of recommendations made by investigators following the tragedy had been put in place. These included that training exercises in adverse weather would be carried out at a slower speed.

Describing the past two days as "extremely traumatic", Mr Jevens said: "Hopefully in time we may come to accept what happened to David, but for the moment our emotions are still as raw as those we felt in October 2009."

Mr Jevens added: "We accept that our son is gone from us, and that the unbearable loss to his family, his girlfriend Niamh and his friends and colleagues may somehow be lessened by the fact that he did not die in vain."

Irish Independent

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