Family separated by plane wreckage lucky to be alive

The aftermath of Saturday's Shoreham plane crash
The aftermath of Saturday's Shoreham plane crash

Three relatives narrowly escaped with their lives when a plane crashed onto the A27 inbetween the two cars they were travelling in.

Angie and Ashley Walker, in Findon Valley, were travelling to see family in Mile Oak, along with their 22-year-old daughter, who asked not to be named, when the Hawker Hunter plane crashed into traffic on the busy dual-carriageway.

As the parents glanced in the car’s mirror all they could see was burning wreckage, raising fears over the welfare of their daughter who was travelling a few cars behind.

Angie, 51, said: “The first thing I thought of was my daughter, and then we saw the car on fire on the eastbound carriageway. We didn’t know at the time that it had come from westbound carriageway and been pushed over. Straight away I was hysterical as all you could see was a fireball. I was sat in the car sobbing my eyes out. It’s quite traumatic as you can imagine.”

Grandmother Angie suffers from breathing difficulties and remained in the car while Ashley attempted to find their daughter. The heat of the flames prevented him from reaching the other side of the crash site and desperate calls to their daughter came to nothing.

For 25 minutes the parents did not know if their daughter was alive – a time Angie described as ‘the worst moments of my life’.

Worry then turned to relief when Angie received a phone call from a woman who had spoken with her daughter informing her that she was unhurt. Eventually the family was reunited.

“She (daughter) was distraught thinking that it was our car that had been hit,” said Angie. “Bless her, she won’t talk about it. She saw it front on. She was coming up to the lights and saw everything.

“From there, reality really kicked in. This sounds dreadful, but I was just thinking that my daughter had been hit. It wasn’t until then that the shock hit me, and I just couldn’t believe what I had seen. I don’t think I processed it for the first 25 minutes.

“We were so so lucky. It’s like something you see on the television happening in Syria. You can’t process that you’re actually stood there.”

The family remained at the scene ‘for a while’ as Ashley was too shaken up to drive.

Just before the incident happened, Angie was watching the plane’s display through the car window. She leaned forward for a better view as it attempted a loop.

She said: “I just said to my husband ‘gosh, he’s coming down fast’. He levelled out more or less but literally just missed the top of our car. The whole car shook.”

Only the couple’s car and one other made it past where the plane hit, said Angie.

One of the victims of the crash named locally as former Mile Oak footballer Matt Grimstone, 23, was known to Ashley who was previously a coach at the club.

Angie said: “I can’t stop thinking about all the people who have lost their family members. It’s just horrific. Anytime a big plane goes over it brings it all back. The noise and the car shaking was just unbelievable.”

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