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Irish survivor of Kegworth air disaster: I saw the bang, the flames, the sparks

Twenty five years on from the tragedy, Declan Brady says he still suffers from survivor guilt and has trouble looking positively into the future.
Nov 12th 2014, 2:21 PM 9,360 6

Rescue workers sifting through the broken remains of the British Midlands flight on the M1 motorway embankment. Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

AN IRISH MAN who was sitting beside the engine that failed on British Midlands Flight 92 from London to Belfast on 8 January 1989 has said he still struggles with survivor guilt 25 years on from the disaster.

The tragedy, now known as the Kegworth air disaster, claimed the lives of 47 of his fellow passengers, including the Belfast nurse who had been sitting in the seat next to the Irish man.

Speaking to RTÉ 2fm’s Ryan Tubridy today, Declan Brady described the moment the engine failed:

“I was on the lefthand side so I was right beside the engine that failed so I saw the bang, I saw the flames, saw the sparks, saw these sorts of things,” he said.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Having grown up in an aviation household, he said he wasn’t panicked by it as he knew there was another engine. The woman sitting next to him, a nurse from the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, was worried and he said he spent some time reassuring her that everything would be alright.

Everything was normal and calm and so on and it wasn’t until we were landing that the pilot made the announcement to brace and a minute later it was all over.

“At the impact I remember that I had paused, I suppose, to make sure that my co-passenger was in the brace position and I was looking down the length of the aircraft and I saw one of the crew still standing,” Brady explained.

“It was just at the point of the impact and after that the lights go out and it’s just photo flashes of memory. It’s a blur. My memories are of quiet, utter quiet, and dark.”

The aircraft crashed into the embankment of the M1 motorway near Kegworth in Leicestershire.

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Irish man managed to climb out of the aircraft, and get himself to safety. About a week after the disaster, Brady found out that the woman sitting next to him had been killed in the crash.

He told Tubridy in an emotional interview that he still thinks about the disaster most days and still feels guilty about those on the plane who did not make it.

In order to get myself out I must have crawled past people who were dead and dying…

To this day, it still impacts on his life, making it hard for him to look positively into the future.

“What I’m left with is an incapacity to visualise myself in the future, which makes planning hard work which is the bane of my lovely wife['s life],” he said.

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Michelle Hennessy


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