Pilot, former British Airways captain, in critical condition
British police say the death toll from an airshow crash is “highly likely” to increase to 11 people after a fighter jet slammed into a busy main road.
The Hawker Hunter single-seater fighter jet, which was participating in the Shoreham Airshow near Brighton in southern England, hit several vehicles on a nearby road as it crashed Saturday afternoon. Witnesses say the jet appeared to have plummeted when it failed to pull out of a loop manoeuvre.
The initial death toll was seven.
Among the victims were 24-year-old Matt Jones, a personal trainer, and soccer players Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who were on their way to play in a local match, according to local reports.
Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry of Sussex Police said officials were removing bodies from the scene Sunday and more fatalities may be discovered.
The pilot, identified as former British Airways captain Andy Hill, remained in critical condition.
“Doctors say he’s fighting for his life,” said CBC’s Dominic Valitis in London. Hill was also a pilot with the Royal Air Force, according to reports.
“People who know him, say he’s a highly experienced pilot. He’s held in high regard.”
A crane will remove the jet wreckage on Monday. The wreckage extends along 360 metres of the A27 highway.
Removal of the dead is likely to take until at least Tuesday.
Deadly accidents have marred a number of air shows in the past month.
On Sunday, two small planes crashed at an air show in Switzerland, killing at least one person, while, last week in Slovakia, seven were killed when two planes practising for a show collided midair.
Last Saturday, a U.S. army parachutist died after a show in Chicago.
Also in the U.K., a pilot was killed at a show in the north of the country when his plane came down in front of hundreds of horrified spectators and, in Russia, a helicopter gunship crashed at a military air show, killing one and injuring another.