Pictured: Seven-year-old boy killed in plane crash minutes after his father parachuted out of the aircraft as it emerges his dad dug through wreckage with bare hands to try and save him
- Boy was killed when the plane went down in bog land in Co Offaly on Sunday
- His parachutist father successfully jumped from the aircraft moments earlier
- He then raced to the crash site and dug frantically to free his son, Kacper
The father of a seven-year-old boy killed in the Co. Offaly plane crash at the weekend dug with his bare hands in a desperate bid to save his son after the aircraft went down on wet bogland.
Skydiver Kris Kacprzak had parachuted out of the plane just moments before it crashed.
He then raced to the crash site from where he landed, nearly a mile away, and dug frantically to try to free his son, Kacper.
Eyewitnesses said the plane ‘nose-dived’ and there was a ‘terrible roar’ as it crashed ‘straight down like a torpedo’ into the soft bog in Co. Offaly on Sunday afternoon, killing young Kacper Kacprzak, pictured, and the pilot
A GoFundMe fundraising page has been set up following the deaths of Kacper Kacprzac and pilot Neil Bowditch (pictured together)
‘Kris made the jump from the plane and by the time he had landed this dreadful tragedy was unfolding,’ a source close to the Irish Parachute Club said. ‘Kris dug with his bare hands during the recovery operation as we battled to save them.’
Eyewitnesses said the plane ‘just nose-dived’ after flying low and there was a ‘terrible roar’ as it crashed ‘straight down like a torpedo’ into the soft bog in Co. Offaly on Sunday afternoon, killing young Kacper and the pilot.
It crashed just moments after 16 parachutists had jumped out during what has been described as a ‘routine Sunday jump’ from Clonbullogue Parachute Club.
Tragic Kacper had been allowed to accompany his father up on the flight as a ‘weekend treat’. Sources close to the Irish Parachute Club yesterday described the boy and his father as ‘best friends’.
‘It’s a terrible tragedy to hit the club and our deepest condolences go to the family at this time. There was harrowing scenes late into the evening on Sunday. Kris made the jump from the plane and by the time he had landed this dreadful tragedy was unfolding.
‘Kris is something of a skydive enthusiast and Kacper loved his father. He loved planes and I have no doubt as he grew up would have loved to be up their with his dad. Kris dug with his bare hands during the recovery operation as we battled to save them,’ a source close to the club revealed.
‘The pilot was a very well respected and experienced pilot from the UK. We have no idea what could have happened but it is very much a tragedy for both families and for us as a wider community,’ added the source.
The body of Kacper and the pilot were recovered from the wreckage later on Sunday night and taken for post-mortems to the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore.
The plane had taken off from the Clonbullogue Airfield, near Edenderry, shortly before 2.30pm.
Offaly Councillor Eddie Fitzpatrick said the pilot had been hired by the Irish Parachute Club since their own plane was being serviced.
The club said it was ‘deeply saddened’ and confirmed the aircraft had been operating on its behalf. It thanked the emergency services and investigators.
The Air Accident Investigation Unit examined the scene yesterday.
It’s understood Kacper and his family have been living in Ireland for several years and were based in the Dublin area.
Kris is widely known in the parachute/sky-diving community and those who knew little Kacper said he was a ‘bubbly’ and very ‘lovable child’.
The pilot, believed to be from the UK, and Kacper, a local boy, were on board when the plane went down in bog land in Co Offaly on Sunday afternoon
‘Kacper was always with his daddy wherever he went. They had a special bond and both loved planes. The little guy always loved to go up in the planes… who wouldn’t at that age? It’s just so sad that Kris had to witness such a devastating scene,’ a close friend said.
Cllr Fitzpatrick told the Irish Daily Mail that the airfield had a long-established reputation for parachuting and brought great joy to those involved.
‘This is a dreadful tragedy to hit the area and I cannot recall anything like this happening here before. It’s desperately sad,’ he added.
‘The young boy had his whole life ahead of him. What started out as a fun day for any young boy to get a trip in a plane with his father has ended in such deep sadness. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to both families.’
Air accident officials have launched an investigation into what may have happened to cause the light aircraft to go down.
Yesterday, gardaí and investigators remained at the crash site. Although the wreckage was not visible from the roadside, it is believed that the plane sunk down into the wet bogland when it crashed, which made the recovery difficult on Sunday night.
Local man Jimmy Slattery witnessed the crash while out walking his dog on Sunday evening.
‘It came vertically down, there was no wavering or anything,’ he told RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News. ‘The engine was roaring.
‘When it got near tree line I could see the tail move a bit. I heard a thump then.’
Mr Slattery is understood to have assisted in the search and recovery operation.
Edenderry-based Councillor Noel Cribbin said the community was still in a state of shock at news of the deaths.
The aircraft had taken off from Clonbullogue airfield at around 2.25pm, while the crash happened a few miles away in bog land near Edenderry
‘The Parachute Club is over 20 years in Edenderry and run to the highest standards, he said.
‘Nothing like this has ever happened, it’s just a deep tragedy for both families,’ he added.
A Garda spokesman said there were 16 parachutists on board.
‘All 16 made their jump from the craft, however witnesses then saw the aircraft crash shortly afterwards,’ he added.
‘There were two people on board, the pilot and a seven-year-old boy.’
Cllr Fitzpatrick said the airfield had a long established reputation for parachuting.
‘People would be over there all the time, especially at weekends in the summer, a lot of people parachuting and a lot of fundraising jumpers,’ he said.
‘It’s a great shock to hear of an accident like that happening.’
Fellow Offaly councillor Noel Cribbin said: ‘This is a big shock to the area.
‘These flights have been happening for the last 20 years and this is the first time I’ve heard of a plane going down.’
A fundraising page has been set up by ‘heartbroken’ fellow members of the Irish Parachute Club in the wake of the tragedy.
Allaiouti Hassan has raised more than €23,000 (£20,560) in aid of Kacper and the pilot on the GoFundMe page.
On it, he wrote: ‘We are heartbroken by the loss of two cherished members of our family at the Irish Parachute Club, little Kacper, son of our dear friend and fellow skydiver Kris, and Billy, a true gentlemen and a thoughtful and great pilot.
‘This is a difficult time for us all. I know that our skydiving family and the wider community want to come together and do what we can to support the families affected by this tragic accident.
‘I myself have a son the same age as Kacper who loves planes. Having met Kacper at the club I know he was such a beautiful boy who would touch anyone’s heart.
‘Please everyone let’s support their families at this tragic time. Every donation counts, no amount is too small or too big. Let’s show these families what they mean to us all. Please feel free to share this gofundme page with all your family and friends.’
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