9 October 2023

Family of pilot and grandchildren involved in Gundaroo plane crash ask for privacy as they 'process this tragedy'

| Lizzie Waymouth
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Lake George

The plane crashed near Gundaroo, close to Lake George. Photo: David Coleman.

The family of the pilot and three passengers killed in a plane crash near Canberra have expressed their appreciation for the community’s support and asked for privacy as they mourn their loss.

Pilot Peter Nally, 65, and his three grandchildren Raphael, Evita and Philomena died on Friday (6 October) when the single-engine plane crashed and caught alight near the village of Gundaroo, north of Canberra.

“There are no words to describe the grief our family is feeling at this time, which is why we would like to formally decline any requests for media interviews,” a statement from the family shared by NSW Police said.

“We are appreciative of the overwhelming support we continue to receive from our extended family and friends as well as the local community.

“As we are still coming to terms with our loss, we ask that the media respect our privacy while we grieve and process this tragedy.”

The Diocese of Armidale also expressed its condolences to the family.

“The Diocese of Armidale extends its deepest condolences to Diocesan Financial Administrator David Smith, his wife Elise, and their family. They have suffered a heartbreaking loss, as their three precious children, Raphael (11), Evita (9), and Philomena (6), and Elise’s father, Peter, tragically lost their lives in a plane accident near Canberra on Friday,” a statement said.

“Our hearts are heavy with grief, and our thoughts, prayers, and unwavering support go out to the Smith family during this incredibly difficult time. We kindly request that you respect their privacy. The Diocese will not be providing any further statements. May the souls of those dearly departed rest in peace.”

READ ALSO UPDATED: Man and three children killed in plane crash north of Canberra

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help the Smith family with costs and to allow them time together to process their loss.

“On Friday 6th October, 2023, we tragically lost Raphael, Evita and Philomena, and their beloved Poppy, Peter, in a light aircraft crash. This loss will reverberate through the lives of Elise, David, Eamon and Reuben, and Therese, Peter’s wife and the children’s grandmother. The Nally and Smith extended families are forever changed by having known these wonderful people, little and big,” the fundraiser reads.

“The joy they brought to our lives cannot be undone. They were wildly imaginative, clever, fun and compassionate. After spending Thursday 5th October at the zoo, the kids spent the evening engaged in an hours-long game of make-believe, saving animals from poachers inside an elaborate lounge room cubby.”

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The Cirrus SR22 aircraft took off from Canberra Airport for Armidale at 2:36 pm that afternoon. Mr Nally and his grandchildren arrived in Canberra on Wednesday (4 October) after travelling from Redcliffe, north of Brisbane, via Armidale.

Flight data appears to have disappeared 16 minutes after the aircraft departed on Friday at 2:36 pm.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into the crash.

Transport safety investigators arrived on the scene on Friday evening to conduct an initial assessment of the accident site.

“Over coming days, investigators with experience in aircraft operations and maintenance will conduct a range of evidence-gathering activities on site, including site mapping, wreckage examination, and recovery of aircraft components for further examination at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra,” the ATSB said.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will also seek to interview any witnesses or involved parties and collect recorded information such as flight tracking data, pilot and aircraft maintenance records and weather information.

The ATSB requests that anyone who may have witnessed the accident, or may have video footage of the aircraft in any phase of its flight, make contact via the witness form on the ATSB website at their earliest opportunity.

Original Article published by Lizzie Waymouth on Riotact.

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