Three persons are in hospital, one in a critical condition, after the plane they were aboard crashed around 11:15 am yesterday at Arau, Region Seven during takeoff.
The pilot, Bernard Singh and two passengers suffered minor injuries. Singh and one of the passengers were kept at the Georgetown Public Hospital for observation while the other was treated and released. The Piper aircraft that Singh piloted carried the registration number N87619
Leon Bristol, 24, of Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara; Troy Daniels; Ivor Williams, a 32-year- old gold miner and Singh were taken to GPH after they arrived on a 6:30pm flight at the Ogle International Airport last evening.
“I was just moving to go wuk and after I been in the plane … I just hear some noise and then it start to go down, but I can’t really remember anything else,” Bristol told reporters as he walked out of the GPH emergency unit last night. He sustained minor injuries and only complained of feeling dizzy.
Officials who arrived with the injured persons declined to speak to this newspaper.
Amelia Williams, Williams’ wife said she got a call around 3:45pm while she was at work and was informed of the crash her husband was involved in. He is a father of two and his condition is said to be stable.
Family members of the others declined to speak to the media.
It was reported that Williams was in a critical condition.
According to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Singh crashed around 11:14 am during takeoff from the Arau airstrip located in the Cuyuni/Mazaruni district. He was heading to another location in the region. The three men were his employees.
It was further stated that a Guyana Defence Force helicopter was able to locate the crash site almost immediately after private operator Emile Jahan of Hinterland Aviation Inc, who was flying in the vicinity, was able to pinpoint its location using the Global Positioning System (GPS).
Army medical personnel were flown in on a Britten Norman Islander from Ogle to Kaikan to bring out the injured men and were seen tending to the men on their arrival at GPH.
Minister of Transport Robeson Benn told Stabroek News that the Resource Coordination Centre closed off for yesterday around 6. 35pm after the injured persons were brought to the city by air and subsequently taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital. The centre was immediately activated on reports of the crash sometime around 11:15am yesterday. It received
a message, via satellite telephone from the pilot of the crashed aircraft.
Benn said that members from the GCAA and the Army Special Forces remained at Arau and will be examining the site today as their investigations continue. Benn said that there was no preliminary word as to the cause of the accident and that GCAA would have to wait until the completion of the examination of the plane’s engine before speaking on the issue.
Benn explained that Army Special Forces and its medex form part of the National Rescue team since they were trained to respond in circumstances such as crashes. “That is their role in a National Search and Rescue Arrangement. They know the area, the terrain and geographic outlay and have been trained to respond in those situations…we are also using their assets; the helicopter,” he noted.
The GCAA said in a statement on the accident that army personnel were deployed to the location at Arau to assist persons involved in the accident. They said that the team flew to the location using a Britten Norman Islander from the Ogle Airport to Kaikan which is the nearest site in relation to the crash site at Region 7.
In January of this year, Canadian pilot, Blake Slater and cargo handler Dwayne Jacobs died after a Trans Guyana Airways plane crashed during a flight from Olive Creek in the Mazaruni to Imbaimadai.
In the last two years there has seen a series of fatal and non-fatal crashes which have raised concerns in the public.
In April, 2009 Singh, the pilot of the plane in yesterday’s crash, went missing for almost five days after he reportedly lost his way while attempting to return to the Chi Chi airstrip where he had left his airplane.
According to the police, Singh had left the Ogle Airport on April 7, 2009 in a Piper 228 Aircraft for Chi Chi where he has a mining operation. He arrived the same day and left the aircraft at the airstrip and made his way into the camp.
Reports are that after spending some days at the camp, he left the site on April 10, 2009 to return to Georgetown but had not done so for several days. His aircraft was found at the airstrip and he was subsequently reported as missing.
According to the police, Joint Services ranks were preparing to go into the area to conduct searches and investigations, when information was received that Singh had made his way back to his camp and was alive and well. (Erica Williams and Marcelle Thomas)