UPDATE: Woman dies in family plane crash tragedy

Emergency services scramble at the scene of yesterday’s fiery plane crash . Photo: The Inverell Times

Emergency services scramble at the scene of yesterday’s fiery plane crash . Photo: The Inverell Times

SATURDAY UPDATE:

A woman has died and two people remain hospitalised after a light plane crash at Inverell yesterday.

About 1.10pm, a Cessna 210 plane began experiencing difficulties mid-air and crashed in the Clive State Forest, shortly after take-off.

Emergency services were called to the scene.

A woman, aged 47, and a man, aged 52, suffered serious burns; while a teenage girl suffered burns to her legs.

All three were taken to Inverell Hospital, where the older woman and man were airlifted to Royal North Shore Hospital.

About 12.20am today the 47-year-old woman died in hospital.

The other two injured parties remain in hospital receiving treatment for their injuries.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.

EARLIER: A TEENAGE girl has miraculously escaped a fiery plane crash in Inverell which has left her parents critically injured with severe burns.

Dr Mark Harding was piloting his Cessna 210 with his wife and 13-year-old daughter on board when the engine started to fail just after take-off from Inverell Airport about 1.10pm yesterday.

Witnesses have reported hearing the single-engine aircraft’s engine cough and splutter before it slammed into the Clive State Forest just short of the runway, bursting into flames.

Dr Harding and his wife suffered extensive burns and were rushed to Inverell Hospital before a fixed-wing Air Ambulance was tasked to airlift them to a specialist burns unit in Sydney last night.

Witness Jade Olds said she was lost for words when the plane came down right before her eyes.

“I was driving home and we saw something, it was like a pebble skipping across the water ... and then it came to a standstill,” she said.

“There was a man who just stopped dead in the road and then he just ripped his shirt off and pulled people out of the plane.

“I just saw them getting taken out of the plane – it didn’t look pretty ... and then the plane just went ka-boom and there was fire everywhere.”

Rescuers raced to the scene as the fire, sparked by the plane’s fuel tank, took hold in nearby grass.

The left wing of the airplane was visible across the long grass, as the three injured people were stretchered from the scene.

Dr Harding and his wife suffered extensive burns and were rushed to Inverell hospital before a fixed-wing Air Ambulance was tasked to airlift them to a specialist burns unit in Sydney last night.

“The female is suffering from full body burns and the male is suffering from burns to his lower body and hands,” New England Inspector Rowan O’Brien told The Leader. Their 13-year-old daughter suffered only minor injuries and was released from Inverell Hospital yesterday afternoon.

Now four specialist aircraft investigators from the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau are enroute to the scene to try and piece together what went wrong.

“The plane experienced difficulty on taking off,” Inspector O’Brien said.

“A crime scene has been established and will be in place as such until local police are relieved by investigators from the ATSB.”

Investigators will look into the maintenance and history of the plane and what forced the crash landing before the plane split in two and exploded.

“It’s very concerning and especially when it is a local family, it hits even closer to home,” Inverell mayor Paul Harmon said.

“It certainly sends a bit of a shockwave through the town and you feel for the people involved and their family.

“You just have to hope and pray they manage to survive.”

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