As an Air Corps plane’s wreckage was being removed from a Connemara mountainside last night heartfelt prayers were being said for the two pilots who tragically lost their lives in a crash which has shocked a local community, family members, and the Defence Forces.
Captain Derek Furniss (32 ) from Ballinteer, Dublin, and Cadet David Jevens (22 ) from Glynn, Wexford, died when their Pilatus PC-9 two seater aircraft crashed on Monday night at Crimlin East, near Cornamona on the Galway-Mayo border.
The two pilots had been taking part in a training exercise along with two other Air Corps planes. The three planes had left Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel in Dublin separately and had been noticed by locals doing manoeuvres in the Cornamona area. Two of the aircraft landed at Galway Airport for refuelling but the third was reported missing at 6.20pm.
Attempts to recover the bodies and the wreckage were hampered by what was described as the exceptionally rough and rocky terrain and the requirement for Army ordnance experts to first remove the ejector seats which contain explosive charges. Once the scene was made safe a full examination by the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU ) got under way at first light on Tuesday morning and has been on-going since. The voice and data recorders were removed and will be studied to establish the cause of the crash. The investigation which is at an early stage is expected to take several weeks to complete.
The wreckage was airlifted from the crash site yesterday and taken to the village of Cornamona before being transported by road to the Department of Transport Air Accident Investigation Centre at Gormanstown in Co Meath.
The bodies of Captain Furniss and Cadet Jevens were removed from the scene on Tuesday afternoon and taken to UHG where a postmortem examination was carried out. The remains were then removed from Galway to Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, last evening where a prayer service was held in the Garrison Church on their arrival. The service was attended by the Furniss and Jevens families, the Minister for Defence Mr Willie O’Dea TD, Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Dermot Earley, and General Officer Commanding the Air Corps, Brigadier General Ralph James, along with friends and colleagues of the deceased. Funerals for both men are to take place in Rathfarnham, Dublin, and Glynn, Wexford, at the weekend.
Brigadier General James said this week that “the Air Corps is devastated by the loss of these two very fine men”.