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Survivor searched for phone to call mother

ONE of the survivors of the horrific plane crash that killed six people frantically searched for her mobile phone to call her mother after escaping from the wreckage.

Belfast-based mother-of-three Heather Elliott had caught the doomed flight last Thursday morning to visit her elderly mother for the weekend in Kinsale, Co Cork. After being carried from the rubble of Flight NM7100, she searched desperately among the mud and debris for her mobile to let her mother know she had survived.

But she never found her phone, leaving her frantic family with an agonising wait to find out if whether or not she had survived.

In his first interview yesterday, her brother David Peare, who lives in Kinsale, said: "Heather was coming to Kinsale to visit our mother.

"The first thing she thought about after surviving the crash was to ring her mother to let her know she was okay. But she couldn't find her phone.

"She was covered in mud after getting out of the plane and the only thing on her mind at that point was to make a call. But she never got to do it.

"When we heard about the crash we feared the worst. The period between finding out about the crash and hearing Heather was okay was agonising. Luckily for us, we got word she was okay."

Mr Peare said he expects Heather, 53, to be in hospital for at least another week, where she is being treated for internal injuries.

Although he described her as a strong woman, he said she hasn't been able to sleep since the tragedy.

"Heather's an extremely strong woman, but she's had difficulty sleeping.

"She was fully conscious throughout the flight and remembers everything. But she's still very shaken and it will take some time for her to recover.

"She's pretty miserable in the hospital, but she's doing very well and hopefully she will be out the hospital in about a week's time. We're very hopeful she'll make a full recovery."

Heather, the daughter of late Kinsale rector Oliver Peare, has also received regular visits from her husband Stephen Elliott and her three children, Jennifer, 21; David, 20; and Peter, 17.

Her mother Roma, 84, said she has been praying ever since the tragedy.

"I've prayed a lot. I'm so thankful she survived. But at the same time I'm devastated for the families of those who didn't make it," she said.

Mr Peare said he was sure his sister wouldn't be here today were it not for the professionalism of the emergency services.

"They responded brilliantly. The fact that Heather was seated on the wing of the plane and the way the emergency services reacted certainly saved her life."

Sunday Independent