Survivor tells of being trapped by pilot's body

Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 00:00

A businessman told the High Court he was trapped under the body of a dead pilot for two hours after a small aircraft crashed when trying to land at an airport in Connemara.

Kevin Barry jnr, who suffered extensive fractures including a brain injury, said rescuers did not even notice he was in the cockpit until he called out. “The plane was pushing on my head I could not breathe. I felt my strength going. There was also the fear of explosion. I turned to God and, within half an hour they cut the plane apart and the pressure lifted on my head and chest,” he said.

A group of Galway businessmen were returning from lunch on the Aran Islands when the crash occurred on July 5th, 2007, the court heard.

Two deaths

The pilot, Matt Masterson (59), Terenure, Dublin, and a passenger, accountant Paul McNamee (57), Loughrea, Co Galway, died in the crash at Connemara Airport, Inverin.

Mr Barry, a father of three, of Clifden, Co Galway, has sued various parties in relation to the crash in proceedings before the court for assessment of damages only.

The case is against the legal representative of the pilot; Lancton Taverns Ltd, SCD House, Waterloo Road, Dublin, and its director David Courtney; Hennessy Aviation Services Ltd of Beldaragh, Naul, Co Dublin; the Aer Arann Group; and Galway Aviation Services Ltd of Inverin, Co Galway.

Damages claim

In addition to general damages for pain and suffering, Mr Barry is seeking a further €1.7 million for past and future loss of earnings in relation to several businesses and investments in which he was involved.

Opening the case, senior counsel James Connolly, for Mr Barry, said, on approaching to land, the aircraft struck a small outcrop, bounced 100ft into the air, cartwheeled and crashed. The left wing severed, coming to rest on the right hand side of the fuselage and the engine also detached.

As a result of the crash, it is claimed Mr Barry jnr suffered serious personal injuries including a fractured skull, fractures to his ribs and injuries to his chest and hand.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told Mr Barry, prior to the incident, was a highly motivated and active businessman and accountant, but now had poor short-term memory, a much more limited vocabulary and a daily apprehensions of making mistakes.

In his evidence, Mr Barry described how the aircraft crashed. When he woke up an hour later, the dead pilot was on top of him, he said. After the crash, he had to learn to walk again; he suffers from claustrophobia and struggles to find words when speaking.

The case continues.