Father of crash survivor pays tribute to rescue crew that fought fire


SURVIVORS:THE FATHER of one of the six passengers who survived Thursday’s plane crash at Cork Airport yesterday paid tribute to firefighters who helped extinguish the burning engine of the plane.

Peter Cowley of Glanmire, Cork, said he and his wife, Anne, realised just how lucky their son, Peter Jnr (31), was to survive and said their thoughts and prayers were with the families of those who lost loved ones in the tragedy.

“We are the lucky ones in that Peter survived but we are thinking about those who were not so fortunate. Our prayers and thoughts go out to them,” said Mr Cowley.

He said his son, who works as Munster area sales manager for Keystone Lintels in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, was sitting just two seats from the front of the plane when it crashed.

Peter Jnr, who is single and lives in Glanmire, suffered a number of injuries including a punctured lung, a broken collarbone and a fractured wrist. He had been moved out of intensive care at Cork University Hospital and was grateful to be alive, said Mr Cowley. “Peter’s in fine form. He was sitting up in bed when I left him at the hospital earlier. They had stitched back on his ear. He was extraordinarily lucky given where he was sitting in the plane and the fact that the firefighters were able to extinguish the fire in the engine.”

Waterford man John Walsh told local radio station WLR FM how his son, Donal (22), was rescued by firefighters when they smashed a pane of glass to pluck him from the aircraft after it overturned on the runway.

“It’s just such a relief that Donal survived. It was a terrible ordeal and our thoughts go out to all of the other people who unfortunately didn’t have the same outcome. We’re thinking of them especially today,” said Mr Walsh.

Donal and Laurence Wilson from Larne, Co Antrim, who were discharged from the Cork hospital yesterday,said their thoughts were with the families of the deceased and praised the emergency services.

Mark Dickens from Watford; Heather Elliot, a native of Kinsale living in Belfast; Mr Cowley; and Brendan Mallon (39) from Bangor, Co Down, continued to be treated at the hospital yesterday. The bodies of five of the six people killed were yesterday released to relatives following the completion of postmortem examinations and formal identification by relatives. It is understood the body of Belfast deputy harbour master Capt Michael Evans (52) will be released to family members today.

The North’s First Minister Peter Robinson said he contacted Taoiseach Brian Cowen yesterday to express “deep appreciation” for the response of the emergency services and staff at the hospital.

The first commercial flight to the airport since the crash arrived last night and full services there are expected to resume today.