Tuesday 12 December 2017

Victim's mum: air show should not have been held over road

Pilot Andy Hill is fighting for his life
Pilot Andy Hill is fighting for his life
Emergency workers and crash investigation officers work at the scene
A plume of smoke is seen just after the crash
Jacob Schilt died in the airshow tragedy
Matt Jones died in the airshow tragedy
Matthew Grimstone died in the airshow tragedy
Swiss police officers inspect the wreckage of a plane in Dittingen yesterday
A woman lays flowers near the site where a Hawker Hunter fighter jet crashed in Shoreham, England, yesterday

Nicola Harley and Martin Evans

The mother of a footballer killed in the Shoreham air show crash has criticised the decision to hold the event in a built-up area near to a main road.

Matthew Grimstone (23)died alongside his football team-mate Jacob Schilt, when the car they were travelling in was destroyed by a 60-year-old fighter jet that smashed into the A27 on Saturday after failing to successfully complete a loop-the-loop.

Last night, police said it was "highly likely" that at least 11 people had died in the accident, but warned that the death toll could rise as they continued to scour the wreckage strewn across the scene.

Mr Grimstone's mother, Sue, questioned why the show had been allowed to take place near such a busy road.

Speaking from her home in Brighton, she said: "Air shows should be over the sea. It should never have been over that road."

She added: "It's such a waste."

Air accident investigators are examining several pieces of amateur footage of the incident in an effort to understand what caused the plane to crash. Some experts have suggested that the plane appeared to stall as it entered the difficult manoeuvre.

It was also suggested that the pilot Andy Hill may have momentarily regained control of the jet just before impact, steering the nose upwards, explaining how he may have been thrown clear of the blast. He remained in a critical condition in hospital last night.

Mr Grimstone and his friend Mr Schilt, both amateur footballers, were among four victims whose names emerged yesterday. Matt Jones (24) a personal trainer from Littlehampton, West Sussex, is thought to have died alongside a friend as they drove home from work early on Saturday afternoon.

Mark Trussler (49), a motorcyclist, was also feared to be among the fatalities.

Giovanna Chirico (33), his fiancée, made an appeal for information on Facebook, saying she had not heard from him since the crash.

Another of the victims was thought to be the driver of a Daimler limousine, which had been on its way to pick up a bride to take her to her wedding.

Last night tributes were paid to the victims.

Mr Grimstone's family described him as the "kindest person you could ever meet".

A statement given on behalf of his parents and brothers, David and Paul, said: "The family are in total shock at losing our dearest son Matthew so tragically at 23 years old."

But his mother's concerns about holding the show so close to a built-up area are likely to be considered in the aftermath of the crash.

The crash took place just yards from the dormitories of Lancing College, a £10,000-a-term boarding school. It is understood that the college was concerned about the air show's proximity and insisted that the display took place during the school holiday when pupils were away.

While other air shows take place above airfields which are bordered by designated safe zones, clear of residential areas and major roads, Shoreham is more built-up.

The air show was the scene of another fatal accident in 2007 when an experienced Hurricane pilot was killed when the plane he was flying crashed.

Last night, police began the process of removing bodies from the scene and said they expected to discover more dead among the wreckage.

Air accident investigators will be hoping to speak to Mr Hill, a former RAF pilot and British Airways captain.

Irish Independent

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