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Cessna 172 Crash: ‘We treated the call as if one of our very own loved ones was involved’

“We would like to remember the two souls who died and also their grieving families for their loss. Everyone took part in making sure that the families had closure by finding their bodies.
26 Feb 2019 10:00
Cessna 172 Crash: ‘We treated the call as if one of our very own loved ones was involved’
The search crew during the fatal crash of the Cessna 172 aircraft .

As the families, friends and colleagues of the two aviators prepare for a memorial to mark the occasion volunteers from villages near Delaikoro Ridge have spoken of the search for the two.

One such person was 56-year-old Marika Luva of Vunikawakawa Village, Macuata, who spoke of how volunteers braved the terrain and difficult weather to search for the two, all in the hope that they had survived the crash.

“The call came from the District Rep for Wailevu for all able persons young and old to participate in the search,” recalled Mr Luva.

“It was the first time we heard that a plane had crashed in our mountains. But when the call came for our assistance in the search party, we were obliged.

“We treated the call as if one of our very own loved ones was involved, so we went on the search mission.

“It took us three hours to reach the site where the plane crashed.”

Mr Luva said when the search party was initially organised young and old took part in the effort.

The nearby villages helped with other things such as providing food and washing the Police officers’ clothes as well.

 

 The Cessna 172 crash site in Vanua Levu, which has been confirmed by the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

The Cessna 172 crash site in Vanua Levu, which has been confirmed by the Fiji Maritime Surveillance Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

“As the days went by, we had a feeling that the pilots won’t be breathing when found,” Mr Luva said.

“We helped carry the bodies of the two pilots to be taken to Labasa Hospital when they were found.

“We would like to remember the two souls who died and also their grieving families for their loss. Everyone took part in making sure that the families had closure by finding their bodies.

“Since it happened in our mountains, we remember them on this one- year memorial.”

Government Set To Release Report

Government is expected to release the report on the fatal crash of the Cessna 172 aircraft soon.

This has been confirmed by a senior Govt source who spoke to the Fiji Sun on condition of anonymity, although no date has been set for the release of the report.

New Zealand-based Air Accident Investigator Andrew McGregor was appointed as independent investigator to determine the cause of the crash of Cessna 172 Aircraft, registration DQFTR.

The crash, a year ago today, resulted in the deaths of Pacific Flying School instructor Iliesa Tawalo and student pilot Merelesita Lutu.

The aircraft, which had flown from Nadi to Labasa on March 26 last year, initially went missing and was found two days later at Delaikoro Ridge in Macuata

Edited by Epineri Vula

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