Seaham family speaks of 'incomprehensible news' after man dies in plane crash over Alps
A sister has confirmed her brother died in a tragic plane crash over the French Alps during the “trip of a lifetime.”
Lisa Crowe, from Seaham, has confirmed the death of her brother Andrew Buck, 37, in the crash in a post on GoFundMe.
An 18-year-old man, who has not been named and was a passenger on the leisure aircraft, also lost his life in the incident near Larche.
The French authorities have said two planes left in a valley after leaving an airport and both crashed, with pilot of the other craft, the only person on board, left injured.
Their flight had left Eshott Airfield in Northumberland on Sunday, with the aircraft loaned out by Purple Aviation and part of a private expedition to Malta.
Lisa has launched a GoFundMe page as her family come to terms with their loss and raise funds to bring him home and cover his funeral costs.
She wrote: “My parents and I received the incomprehensible news that my little brother Andrew was tragically killed in an accident while flying over the French Alps.
“At this time we are unsure as to whether or not Andrew had any type of insurance in place etc and so in a bid to lessen the financial burden on my parents at this horrendous time, I have set up this GoFundMe page in the hope that we can raise enough funds to get my little brother, Andrew home so my parents can go forward with funeral arrangements.”
She added she hopes to lift the financial burden off their parents so they do not have to worry about bills and other costs.
“As many of you who know my family are already aware, I live in Canada and so it's hard for me to do anything that may help from this distance and I know my parents would never reach out and ask for help like this themselves, so if through this page I can help alleviate some of the stress in some small way, well then at least that's something,” she said.
“My husband Steve and I are beyond grateful for everyone's kind words and support at this time and I know my parents feel the same.”
A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are in contact with the local authorities about the death of two British men in France and we are offering assistance to their families.”
A statement from Purple Aviation, which is based at Eshott at Felton, and posted on its Facebook page said: “Purple Aviation extends its deepest sympathies to the families of the two men who died in a tragic accident in the Alps.
“We can confirm that there was no mid air collision as described, and that the pilot of the first aircraft to crash walked away from the wreckage unharmed after a well executed forced landing.
“We have been overwhelmed with messages of support throughout the day and would like to thank everyone who has tried to help us.
“The men were in a plane that was part of a private expedition of five aircraft travelling from Newcastle to Malta.
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“The accident happened over the Maddalena Pass, on France’s border with Italy.
“Whilst the expedition was not organised by Purple Aviation, the team included two company directors, Richard Pike and Sam Woodgate.”
Richard said: “This was a group of experienced pilots and close friends embarking on the trip of a lifetime, which has been planned over the last year.”
The trip had set out from Eshott on Sunday and had been travelling in a series of stages, scheduled to reach Malta on Saturday.
The company added: “The pilot who died was flying an aircraft loaned by Purple Aviation as part of the support network for the trip.
“The passenger in the plane, who was also killed in the crash, was another close friend.”
The statement goes on to add a comment from Richard, which said: “Everyone involved has been devastated by this tragic accident.
“We’d like to pass on our sincere condolences to the families of those who died.
“We have lost two brilliant friends today”
It added “an investigation is now ongoing by French aviation authorities, and they have been provided with the expedition’s film footage of the incident to see how events unfolded.”
Olivier Jacob, prefect of Alpes de Haute Provence, said: "Today, on Wednesday July 24 2019, two leisure aircraft registered in England which took off at Saint-Pons airport crashed in a valley near Larche, to the south of Tete de Viraysse, with a person on board the first aircraft and two people on board the second.
"The pilot of the first plane is lightly injured.
"The two people who were found in the second craft are dead.
“The victims are British nationals, aged 18 and 37."
Mr Jacob said French emergency services - including mountain police, a police helicopter, three ambulances and 22 fire crew - attended the scene.