Jul 16, 2013 News
A female pilot and 12 passengers were injured around 08:00 hrs yesterday after an Air Services Limited Cessna Caravan aircraft, flying in heavily overcast conditions, crashed at Matthew’s Ridge, North West District.
Among the eight injured were the pilot, Feriel Ally, Esther Williams and her two-year-old daughter, Jonel, Alona Massay, 27, of Matthew’s Ridge; Naline Dellon, Wesley Johnson, Shellon Williams, Urmella Rajesh and Dexter Benjamin.
The pilot and another female passenger suffered lacerations to the face. The pilot sustained a deep cut to her forehead while several passengers, including a man called “Tall Man” sustained a broken leg. Massay sustained injuries to her right leg, while another woman suffered a broken jaw.
The injured were air-lifted to Georgetown and most of the victims were admitted to the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
Reports indicate that the pilot was attempting to land in overcast conditions when the mishap occurred.
Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, said that there are reports that the aircraft clipped a tree some two and a half miles south of the airstrip. Minister Benn expressed relief that there were no fatalities, but added that he regrets the injuries the passengers sustained and the loss of the aircraft.
According to eyewitnesses, the Cessna Caravan bearing registration 8R-AMS circled the airstrip about three times before crash-landing at an area called Rail End, located at the back of the airstrip.
Kaieteur News was told that passengers from the grounded aircraft were seen crawling out of the thick bush in which the plane had landed.
“THE PLANE JUST DROPPED”
Passenger Alona Massay recounted that she was sitting three seats behind the pilot when the plane circled three times in the vicinity of the Matthew’s Ridge airstrip. “I say that maybe she (the pilot) wasn’t seeing the airstrip, and then it (the plane) made one drop into the bushes. It happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to think. It just dropped.”
The impact knocked her unconscious. When Massay regained her senses, she was still strapped to her seat and she observed that the plane was in the bushes. She observed a female passenger and her husband running among the trees. Ms. Massay said that she unfastened her seat belt and crawled out of the plane.
She was treated at the Pakera Hospital in Matthews Ridge before being transported to Georgetown and admitted to the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Massay’s husband, Erwin Bobb, said that he was at home in Berbice when he heard of the crash. Mr. Bobb said that he “got cold”, since he was aware that his wife was travelling by plane to Matthew’s Ridge.
He later learnt that his wife was on the same flight and that she had had been hospitalised.
Two North West residents said that they witnessed part of the drama while waiting for another flight.
“We were waiting on our flight to come and then this plane arrived before ours. The weather was terrible, and just as she (the pilot) was about to land, she circled three times around the airstrip and then turned back to go to Georgetown,” the eyewitness related.
Due to the thick cloud and heavy rain, “persons present at the Matthew’s Ridge airstrip could not see when it fell out of the sky but a passenger on the plane called someone at Matthew’s Ridge landing and informed them about the crash and everybody just left and went straight there.”
There, residents saw some of the passengers, including the injured, crawling among the bushes. They then assisted in taking them to the Pakera Hospital at Matthew’s Ridge.
“At the hospital, the pilot just had a cut to her forehead and she was walking around the hospital, without being attended to, checking on the other patients at the hospital to make sure they were ok,” the eyewitness said.
Contacted yesterday, Operations Manager of Air Services Limited (ASL), Annette Arjoon-Martins said that she would not comment on the incident since the authorities were still investigating.
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