Pair cheat death in Shoreham air disaster

A father and his young son cheated death in the Shoreham air disaster only because wedding limousine driver Maurice Abrahams let their car go ahead of his.

Pair cheat death in Shoreham air disaster

Mr Abrahams, 76, a former soldier who had served in the Parachute Regiment, died in the blaze that engulfed drivers when the Hunter Hawker struck the A27, exploding into a fireball.

At least 11 people are believed to have been killed in the tragedy, which occurred when the pilot of the vintage plane failed to pull out of a loop-the-loop manoeuvre in time.

Michael Sturgess told how Mr Abrahams, who had been on his way to pick up a bride for her wedding ceremony, generously let him on to the busy road.

He told the BBC: “I had come on to the A27, and then he let me in because the traffic was so bad. We went through the traffic lights, the traffic lights went red and that’s when he got hit.”

Mr Sturgess said his eight year-old son Louis watched in horror as the plane crashed on to the busy road and exploded into flames.

He said: “My little boy saw it all happen... as I went around the bend the plane came down and he saw everything – my eight year-old Louis, my little boy.”

Mr Sturgess said he felt “very sad” at what happened, and lucky to be alive.

Speaking to the BBC as he laid flowers at the scene in West Sussex in memory of Mr Abrahams, he said: “Someone was looking down at us really – that’s why I’ve come down to bring some flowers for his family and once all the roads open we are going to put more down for him anyway.”

Mr Abrahams was driving a classic Daimler on his way to pick up Rebecca Sheen to take her to her wedding when the plane struck him.

His family paid tribute to him in a statement. They said: “Maurice is a well-respected and loved father and husband. He enjoyed his work chauffeuring his beloved Daimler car and he enjoyed gardening.

“He was proud to have served in the Grenadier Guards and the Parachute Regiment. He served in Cyprus and Bahrain with the UN. In his 30s he served as a police officer with Hampshire Police.” The names of six men believed to have been killed in the tragedy have emerged, but Sussex Police say they believe a further five were also killed.

Sussex Police Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said it is “becoming increasingly likely” that the final death toll will be set at 11 after initial fears it could be as high as 20.

The removal of the doomed jet from the scene this week uncovered no further evidence of victims, although forensic examination of the site continued.

It is believed the jet’s seats were in place when it was found, suggesting that its pilot Andrew Hill may not have ejected before impact.

Mr Hill is fighting for his life and has been put in a medically induced coma.

West Sussex coroner Penny Schofield has warned that identifying the victims will be a “slow and painstaking operation” and she called for “patience and understanding”.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced restrictions on air shows “until further notice”.

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