Helicopter crash into Vauxhall tower crane leaves 2 dead
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Featured
Vauxhall tower helicopter crash
A helicopter crash into a crane on top of a residential tower construction site in Vauxhall has left two people dead.
The commercial helicopter struck the crane in foggy conditions at 8am this morning. Police have confirmed that the pilot, Captain Pete Barnes, and somebody in "close proximity" to the site were killed.
The 51-storey One St George Wharf tower is purported to become one of the tallest residential buildings in Europe when it is finished later this year, with all its apartments apparently already sold.
The crash occurred during rush hour, and witnesses on the ground reported seeing parts of the crane, burning aviation fuel and other debris falling into the road below.
It has been revealed that Mr Barnes, 50, who worked for charter firm Rotormotion, had been on a flight from Redhill to Elstree when he was diverted by aviation officials because of the bad weather.
As well the two fatalities, five people were taken to hospital and seven were treated at the scene.
Construction worker, Rezart Islami, who was nearby the scene, told the Guardian: "I saw the helicopter come from the south-east direction very fast. It just went bang into the crane. The crane's arm broke off straight away and the helicopter was sent spinning around in a ball of smoke.
"I ran straight around to see what was happening. It was very worrying. I had never seen anything like this in my life."
Rotormotion's managing director, Captain Philip Amadeus, paid tribute to Mr Barnes. He said: "We are devastated by the loss of a highly valued colleague and very dear friend. Our thoughts and condolences are with Peter's wife and children.
"His death is a very great loss to the aviation community and Rotormotion."
The Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that until today there had no fatal helicopter accidents in Greater London since records began in 1976.
London Fire Brigade confirmed that six fire engines, four fire rescue units and 88 firefighters and officers attended the crash site, and that the fire was now under control.
The tower is being built by St George, the development arm of the Berkeley Group, who own the building.
A spokesman for Berkeley Group said: "We can confirm a helicopter collided with a crane at St George Wharf at 8am this morning.
"Our thoughts at this time are with the friends and families of those killed in this tragic incident.
"Emergency services are on the scene and authorities are investigating the circumstances. We are offering our full support and assistance to the emergency services."
Image copyright London Fire Brigade.