Connemara air crash survivor recounts horror

Invitation to fly to Aran island ended in two deaths and injuries to the eight passengers

Firemen take two of the casualties from the aircraft at Inverin. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Firemen take two of the casualties from the aircraft at Inverin. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Tue, Apr 30, 2013, 08:39

A passenger described yesterday how a day out as a guest on a aircraft trip to the Aran Islands turned to disaster when the plane crashed at a Connemara airport, killing two of those on board.

Yesterday Eugene Holohan (54), a quality manager from Masonbrook, Loughrea, Co Galway, relived his ordeal when the aircraft crashed at Inverin on July 5th, 2007.

His best friend and the pilot were both killed in the tragedy, while all of the eight passengers on the trip suffered injuries of varying severity.

Mr Holohan was giving evidence at a High Court action he brought against Lancton Taverns of Belgrave Square, Dublin, and Hennessy Aviation Services, the Naul, Co Dublin, the owners and operators respectively of the Cessna Caravan aircraft.

He also sued Wells Fargo Bank Northwest NAS of Salt Lake City which provides trust facilities to enable non-US citizens to own US registered aircraft. Senior counsel Bernard Madden, for Mr Holohan, told Mr Justice Michael Hanna that liability was not an issue and the hearing was for the purpose of an assessment of damages.

Mr Madden said that his client had been invited by some friends to travel with them to Inis Meain, one of the Aran Islands off Galway, on an Aer Arann flight to attend a meeting.


Cut out of seat
The group travelled back on the Cessna Caravan, which crashed at the airport. Mr Holohan told the court that he had been seated in the rear of the aircraft and his first memory was of waking up strapped into his seat. “I was in great pain, I was strapped in so tightly,” he said. He had to be cut out of his seat and placed on a stretcher before being taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital.

The pilot, Matt Masterson, and Mr Holohan’s best friend, Paul McNamee, both lost their lives in the crash, the High Court sitting in Galway heard.

Mr Holohan said that he suffered a number of serious injuries, including fractures of his lumbar vertebrae, multiple rib fractures, a fractured wrist and a number of broken teeth.

He underwent surgery and had to have a procedure on his colon and a subsequent colostomy, which was later reversed.


Range of problems
He suffered a range of problems after the crash, including depression, stress and anxiety and was limited in the amount of physical work he could do. His social life had also been affected, the court heard.

He had been a quality manager with a company manufacturing seals for the automotive industry, but had since worked at a couple of much lesser jobs.