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Teen Girl, Mother Being Airlifted For Medical Treatment When Flight Crashed

The 16-year-old, her mother and the pilot died in the Mt Gambier crash.

29/06/2017 9:21 AM AEST | Updated 29/06/2017 9:49 AM AEST
9News

A 16-year-old girl on her way to Adelaide for medical treatment and her 43-year-old mother were two of the victims of Wednesday's light plane crash near Mount Gambier.

The pilot -- 78-year-old Adelaide Hills businessman and Angel Flight volunteer Grant Gilbert -- was also killed when the plane plummeted into a paddock just minutes after taking off from Mount Gambier Airport, just before 10:30am on Wednesday.

The plane, a 25-year-old Tobago TB10, went down in Suttontown, just a few kilometres south of Mount Gambier airport. The SA Country Fire Service, which was called to the scene of the wreckage, said the plane was "extensively damaged" but there was no actual fire.

Gilbert was taking the teen and her mother to Adelaide as part of his work volunteering for Angel Flights, a charity which provides non-emergency medical flights to people in isolated areas so they can access specialist treatment.

Mount Barker Mayor Ann Ferguson told The Advertiser that Gilbert was an integral part of the local community and "an all-round good local bloke".

"(Grant) was part of local government and on the hospital board. He was one of those people who would get on with a job without looking for recognition," she said.

"He was a caring person (and) he was a giving person. It wouldn't matter who it was, if you went to Grant and asked for help, he would give it to you."

Gilbert was a leading businessman in the Adelaide Hills and had owned Gilbert Motors at Mount Barker for decades.

The 16-year-old girl was a student at Mount Gambier's Grant High School.

The South Australian Education Department put out a statement on Wednesday, offering its "deepest condolences" to the family and friends of those on board.

"The Department is putting in place counselling and support services for students and staff," the statement read.

"At the appropriate time the school will celebrate the life of the young student who was a valued and much loved member of the community."

The local flying school also issued a statement regarding the "tragic event".

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of those on board the aircraft," the statement read.

It's not clear what caused the crash, but weather conditions -- which police describe as "foggy, cold and wet" -- will form part of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's investigation.

Commercial flights out of Mount Gambier Airport were significantly delayed that morning due to the poor weather.

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have seen the plane in flight or the crash.

"I understand that there were some people that have seen the plane before it took off and perhaps someone who has seen it shortly thereafter but no one, we understand, has seen the actual crash itself," SA Police Superintendent Grant Moyle said.

It is the second fatal light plane crash in South Australia in just three weeks. On May 30, three experienced Adelaide pilots -- including a Civil Aviation Safety Authority employee -- were killed when their light aircraft crashed near Renmark Airport in the South Australian Riverland.


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