Tragedy! Two dead as small plane crashes into Greenwich Town house

A flight class turned tragic yesterday when a small aircraft crashed in Greenwich Town, south St Andrew, killing the instructor and a student shortly after take-off from the nearby Tinson Pen Aerodrome.

The identities of the deceased were not released up to press time. A third victim was rushed to Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) after he was pulled from the downed aircraft by residents.

“He is critically ill [with] significant burns to the body; may have had some head injury based on what we think could be loss of consciousness. But he recovered enough to give a history while at KPH as to what happened. He has some fractures of the limbs and injury to a left eye. He has had CT scan and is to be admitted to the intensive care unit,” chief medical officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Winston De La Haye told the Jamaica Observer.

Public relations officer at the Jamaica Fire Brigade Emelio Ebanks informed theObserver that the Cessna 172 (reg# N1O1KA) aircraft, which is said to be owned by the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre, developed mechanical problems and was being flown back to the aerodrome when it plunged into the densely populated community.

“We received a call from Tinson Pen at approximately 1:34 pm. That was actually a distress call and they gave us some suspected locations. We responded immediately. We had four units on the scene and from what we got from them the plane developed mechanical problems shortly after taking off,” Ebanks said.

Yesterday, the Airports Authority of Jamaica said flight safety inspectors from the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority were conducting preliminary investigations.

It was the quick action of residents that saved the life of the second student, whose identity is also being withheld.

“Honestly, mum, thank God fi Greenwich Farm people dem weh save the man weh come out. Mi fren weh name Carrot and di other man dem did a good job. Pure water dem a throw and wi end up tek out a one man. Di police dem come a gwaan wid dem dutty ways a try disrespect wi and a wi do it. Thank God fi wi,” a woman who gave her name as Judene said.

This reporter was also verbally abused and pushed by a senior police officer on the scene. The Observer was unable to ascertain his name, but the newspaper was told that he is a superintendent who was once assigned to the Hunt’s Bay Police Station.

Fifteen-year-old Denham Town student Richard Cuarte gave the Observer his account of the crash.

“Mi see di plane a come, Miss, and wi hear di engine shut off, den wi hear boof! Wi run go ’roun there and wi deh deh a throw water a try see if wi can out the fire. A man go deh, so mi follow and wi start tek out one of di man dem, Miss,” he said.

The aircraft crashed into an unoccupied old house at 11 Seaview Avenue. No one in nearby houses was injured.

Another resident, 21-year-old Shannan Gilbert, said she and her two-year-old son, Shay-quan Ellis, could have been victims of the tragic incident.

“He was right by the tree picking up di berries when it crash. Mi swear mi and him did a go dead because di plane just a swirl before it crash. It never catch a fire until a little while after, but mi grab mi son and run before. Di man dem inna di plane scream out, one fi him mother. It did just sad,” Gilbert recalled.

Relatives of the dead men wept bitterly at the scene. One woman, who appeared to be the mother of one of the deceased, was inconsolable as she fought to get a closer look at the crash scene. She was later ushered away by several politicians who turned up, including Opposition Leader and Member of Parliament for the constituency Portia Simpson Miller.

Schoolmates of the deceased wandered around, their faces etched with pain. A similar picture greeted the Observer on arrival at the Caribbean Aviation Training Centre. Students wept openly, some visibly shocked by the event. Authorities there offered no comment, only insisting that they were awaiting the outcome of a thorough investigation.

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