Wednesday 21 March 2018

Cork air crash 'rattled' pilot who took his own life

Oliver Lee: hanged himself over Cork air crash anguish
Oliver Lee: hanged himself over Cork air crash anguish

Mark Lister

THE grieving father of a pilot who killed himself after believing he could have averted the Cork air disaster, has said that his son's life was perfect until that ill-fated day.

Skilled flyer Oliver Lee was "rattled" by the belief that he could have prevented the crash of the Manx2 plane last February, his inquest heard yesterday.

Six people were killed and six were injured in the crash on a route Mr Lee regularly flew.

He had left Manx2 just days before the tragedy to start training with Jet2.

The 29-year-old hanged himself in April and was found by a Jet2 colleague in the stables of his family home in England, which he shared with his father David and sister Harriet.

His devastated father said his son was a "thoroughly decent lad".

"It's been a terrible loss for myself as a father, for Harriet as a sister, for his family, friends and colleagues," he said.

"He was a wonderful man -- a thoroughly decent lad.

"To us it seems so unnecessary, but obviously to him there were issues relating to that Cork air crash. Life was just perfect and normal until then. He had a good career and a fantastic partner."

Mr Lee said being a pilot was all his son had ever wanted to do.

The fatal flight was being piloted by Mr Lee's former colleague, Spaniard Jordi Lopez, as it landed in Cork from Belfast.

Two attempts to land in dense fog were aborted and on a third attempt the right wing tip of the aircraft clipped the runway, the aircraft overturned, skidded for 200 metres and caught fire.

Mr Lee had flown the route twice a day before he left Manx2.

Mr Lee's inquest in Bradford yesterday heard that concern was raised when he failed to meet up with his pilot pal Duncan Hastie to revise for an upcoming test he was worried about.

Mr Hastie and Mr Lee's sister Harriet returned to search outbuildings after first checking the local pub and even the grave of his mother Louise.

The inquest heard how Mr Lee had been shocked and upset by the Manx2 disaster.

Mr Hastie said his friend had discussed the crash with him and knew if he had still been with Manx2 "there was every possibility he would have been rostered" to fly the ill-fated plane.

The month Mr Lee died, he had gone for counselling and had told therapist Joyce Ormesher he felt he had lost confidence.

He felt if he had been flying that plane to Cork it might have been different and that those six people may have been alive.

"The crash had rattled him," she said.

Acting Bradford coroner Professor Paul Marks recorded a verdict that Mr Lee killed himself.

A preliminary report into the crash was released in March, which found no mechanical fault with the aircraft.

Irish Independent

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