Wexford plane crash: 'Clearly something happened to the aircraft before it hit the terrain'

The two men who were killed in the crash have been named locally as Peter Tawse, 61, from Old Ross in Co Wexford, and 58-year-old John Finnan from Naas in Co Kildare.

Wexford plane crash: 'Clearly something happened to the aircraft before it hit the terrain'

Air crash investigators are considering the possibility that the plane that crashed in south Wexford on Sunday evening may have disintegrated before it hit the ground.

The two men who were killed in the crash have been named locally as Peter Tawse, 61, from Old Ross in Co Wexford, and 58-year-old John Finnan from Naas in Co Kildare.

Both men were members of Wexford Flying Club and Mr Tawse was an experienced aviation instructor. He was also a former manager of Waterford Regional Airport.

Four inspectors from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) returned to the scene of the crash yesterday to try to locate and remove all of the debris from the aircraft, which is believed to be scattered across a number of fields.

The incident happened in the Ambrosetown area, near Duncormick at around 5.45pm on Sunday.

Initial reports indicate that the plane exploded either on impact with the ground or shortly beforehand while still airborne.

A number of investigations, including by gardaí, the AAIU and the Irish Aviation Authority, are underway.

The AAIU chief inspector, Jurgen White, said there is a clear indication that something was happening to the plane before it hit the ground.

The spread of the wreckage “gives some indication of the direction the investigation should take", he said.

Clearly something happened to the aircraft before it hit the terrain.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr White said he believes the aircraft was being used for a training flight. It was a vintage two-seater with one engine that was primarily used for leisure flying, he said.

Eye witness reports from the area have told gardaí that there was a loud bang.

The scene of the crash near Duncormick, Co Wexford. Picture: Patrick Browne
The scene of the crash near Duncormick, Co Wexford. Picture: Patrick Browne

Mr White said that as part of their investigation the AAIU will be talking to the witnesses “who had seen or heard the aircraft in difficulty”.

An Independent councillor in Wexford, who is also a member of the emergency services, described the fatal air crash as “a tragedy of unspeakable proportions.”

Cllr Ger Carthy told RTÉ radio that “something catastrophic happened yesterday evening.”

Weather conditions at the time were clear, he said: “It was a fantastic day, there was no cloud.”

He said he believes the aircraft was returning to the airfield when the accident happened.

The two casualties were located close to the wreckage while gardaí co-ordinated the recovery mission.

The atmosphere in the south Wexford area was “very sad and sombre” as it is an area that is not used to seeing emergency services, he said.

Local Fianna Fáil Councillor Michael Sheehan described the tragedy as devastating news:

It's a very sad day for the people of Wexford and we hope and pray that over the next couple of days that people keep the families in their thoughts and prayers.

Wexford County Council said it wanted to offer its sincere sympathy to the families and friends of the deceased.

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements for one of two men killed in light aircraft crash have been announced.

Mr Finnan, from Emily Square in Athy, will be laid to rest in St Michael's New Cemetery, Athy following Requiem Mass in St Michael's Parish Church at midday.

The death notice for Mr Finnan on RIP.ie reads: "Our beloved son, brother, brother-in-law, uncle and friend; sadly missed by his loving parents John and Claire, his sisters Emer, Ciara and Mary, his brothers-in-law Eoin, Ken and Steven, his nephew’s Alastair, Jack, Archie, Joshua and Toby, his niece Hannah, relatives and many friends. R.I.P."

Mr Finnan's remains will be reposing at Rigney's Funeral Home, Athy from 4pm today [Tuesday] with prayers at 6pm.

Removal will take place at 6.30pm on Tuesday to arrive at St Michael's Parish Church, Athy for 7pm.

The funeral arrangements for Mr Tawse are still being finalised.

-additional reporting from Sarah Slater

More in this section