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miracle escape Wexford plane crash survivor 'focused on recovery' after near miss

Researchers were carrying out aerial surveys when plane crash landed, crushing cockpit

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The scene of the plane crash, Carnsore Point, Co Wexford.

The scene of the plane crash, Carnsore Point, Co Wexford.

The scene of the plane crash, Carnsore Point, Co Wexford.

A survivor of a light aircraft’s miracle crash landing near Carnsore Point says she is now ‘focused on her recovery.’

Marine researchers Edita Starsiulevicute and Nicole Todd were carrying out aerial surveys for marine life, as part of UCC’s ObSERVE II project, when their twin-engined craft encountered difficulties over the Irish Sea on Thursday evening.

It’s understood the aircraft had been flying a parallel survey pattern over an area of ocean just south of Carnsore Point when pilot Ioan Antaul contacted the Coast Guard to declare an emergency just before 5pm.

Antaul subsequently managed to glide the aircraft onto a narrow strip of sand on the Burrow Beach near Carnsore Point.

As the plane touched down, the aircraft pitched forward crushing the cockpit area.

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Rescue officials attend the scene at Carne Strand, Co Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne

Rescue officials attend the scene at Carne Strand, Co Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne

Rescue officials attend the scene at Carne Strand, Co Wexford. Photo: Mary Browne

Ger Carthy, an independent councillor and first responder, said later: “Fortunately, due to the actions of the pilot he managed to save the lives of his three counterparts yesterday evening when the plane went down.”

Cllr. Carthy also paid tribute to the emergency services who played a role in responding to yesterday’s crash.

“The emergency services really stepped up to the mark. They train hard to play hard and they played hard yesterday evening. They brought it to a successful conclusion,” he said.

In a statement released on Friday evening, UCC said the University “can confirm that its staff were passengers on the aircraft that was conducting a survey for marine life in Irish offshore waters, as part of the ObSERVE II project.

“UCC is supporting its staff at this time.”

It is understood the pilot broke his two legs, while his female co-pilot suffered one broken leg but none of the injuries sustained were life-threatening.

The pilot and co-pilot were airlifted to Waterford University Hospital after suffering various fractures, while the two rear passengers were transferred by ambulance to Wexford General Hospital.

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Contacted via Facebook and asked whether she would speak about the miraculous landing, researcher Edita Starsiulevicute declined saying: “I just want to focus on my recovery and getting home to my family.”

The €4.5 million ObSERVE programme has been conducting aerial surveys of almost 500,000km2 of Ireland’s maritime area.

It is being funded by several Government departments as part of planning for offshore renewable and other marine activities which could have an impact on sensitive marine ecosystems.

The UCC team is led by Dr Mark Jessopp and Professor Emer Rogan from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, with partners from Action Air, France, Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands and Duke University in the US.

The wreckage of the French-registered Vulcanair P68 twin-engined, four-seater aircraft was recovered by the Air Accident Investigation Unit for delivery to Gormanston, Co Meath for a full examination.

AAIU chief Jurgen Whyte told the Sunday World that it is not yet clear if it was an engine problem or control issue that led to the emergency landing.

“It’s way too early to say,” he said.

“We only recovered the aircraft yesterday and have yet to talk to the pilot.

“He remains in hospital for his injuries and has to undergo surgery.

“We’re only at evidence gathering stage so it’s just too early to say anything conclusive.”

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