Airshow Crash Death Toll ‘May Rise Above 7’

Police have warned that the bodies of more victims may be found as investigators and emergency services continue to search the scene of a plane crash during the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex.

Seven people have been confirmed dead after a Hawker Hunter jet nosedived onto the A27 at Shoreham and smashed into several cars after it failed to pull out of an acrobatic loop manoeuvre.

Horrified onlookers described seeing the plane flying low to the ground followed by a “huge ball of fire and black smoke” on impact.

One of the vehicles caught up in the tragedy was a wedding car on its way to pick up a bride to take her to her wedding.

The Daimler, which had its roof ripped off by the impact, belonged to Chariot Chauffeurs, with the company’s Jay Sherwin telling the Sun newspaper: “I can confirm that it is one of our cars but at this stage I do not know what happened to the driver.”

The pilot – Andy Hill, a former RAF Harrier pilot – was pulled alive from the wreckage but he is “critically ill and fighting for his life”, police said.

A further 14 people were injured, four of whom were taken to hospital.

Superintendent Jane Derrick, from Sussex Police, said: “As far as we are aware all those who sadly lost their lives were on the road, and it was nobody within the air show perimeter on the actual airport.

“At this time we are continuing to search the area to ensure that we have identified all the casualties.

“It is possible that tonight and tomorrow we are going to find more bodies at the scene.”

Ms Derrick would not comment on speculation that the dead included two cyclists, but said there were “a number of people and bikes at the scene and the officers are working through that at the moment”.

She was also unable to say whether the pilot was able to eject.

Police appealed for members of the public to stay away from the crash site while they continue to search the area.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is now leading the investigation into the cause of the crash.

The jet crashed at around 1.20pm on Saturday, shortly after it began its display in front of thousands of show visitors.

Laura Raymond, who was commentating on the display for Splash FM, told Sky News the accident happened less than a quarter of a mile from where crowds and families were watching the event.

She said a “couple of planes” were taking part in the jet display when one appeared to fly too close to the ground.

She said: “We were watching the displays… and the fast jets were going on.

“Within seconds we were thinking, ‘gosh, that plane is going rather low’. There was a ball of fire, we didn’t even hear an impact, and then plumes of black smoke.”

She said about 20,000 people were at the show and they descended into “hushed silence”.

Show goers were kept at the site until 7pm.

The A27, the main route between Brighton and Worthing, will remain closed until 6am on Monday, Highways England has said.

The show was due to recommence on Sunday but has now been cancelled as a mark of respect, organisers said.

Royal Air Forces Association secretary general Nick Bunting said it was “too early to speculate” about the future of the event.

He said: “On behalf of the Royal Air Forces Association and the Shoreham Airshow organisers our thoughts are with all of those affected by today’s tragic accident, their families and friends.

“We are working closely with all of the organisers involved and the agencies therein.”

Prime Minister David Cameron sent his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the dead victims.

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister sends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the people who were so tragically killed after a jet crashed into several vehicles in West Sussex.

“The Prime Minister’s thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.”

It is the second fatal crash at the Shoreham Airshow in recent years after James Bond stuntman Brian Brown died in September 2007.

The 49-year-old was carrying out an unplanned barrel roll at a re-enactment of the Battle of Britain.

Recommend to friends
  • gplus
  • pinterest