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Dave Goodwin, long time instructor and pilot at Sunderland, Topcliffe & Peterlee Parachute Center, UK, has died following a plane crash in South Africa on 29 November. The Cessna 206 had five people on board; David, his partner Michelle Tilley, and her two sisters and a nephew, who were flying to their mother's funeral. The plane crashed near in Mpumalanga, along the Elandshoek Road and was immediately engulfed in flames. David, 59, heroically pulled everyone from from the aircraft, suffering severe burns in doing so, but managed to get everyone to safety against all odds. Tragically, he died in hospital later from his injuries.
His nephew Jamie wrote this about the incident, “David did sustain 95% burns to his body. He angled the plane crash so he would take the most impact, then made sure everyone got out of the plane before he did despite being engulfed in flames. Regardless of sustaining such terrible burns and being stripped naked he gave everyone the strength to keep moving and get away before the craft exploded, stayed strong and even carried Michelle’s sister who couldn't walk for 2-3 miles to get to the road. He saved the lives of all of her family and took the worst of the damage. He flagged down help and stayed incredibly strong until he knew everyone was safe. Incredible, incredible man. Four people owe him their lives and so many more are so thankful for that.“
The remaining occupants are still recovering and are currently receiving treatment for burns and spinal injuries at Witbank and Middelburg.
The plane was owned by Bushpilot Adventures, a company that occasionally rents private planes to experienced pilots for self-flying across South Africa. CAA spokesman, Kabelo Ledwaba, whose team has investigated the crash, would not release information about its cause but said that details will be confirmed through a preliminary report to be published within 30 days. It seems astonishing looking at the wreckage that anyone escaped alive.
Facebook has exploded with outpourings of appreciation, respect and love for David from his friends, students and colleagues.
“Heroes walk among us. I will never forget this. A selfless act. David will be forever remembered for this act of bravery that took his own life and saved everyone else's.“
“Dave was one of life's good guys. I'm not surprised he acted in this way.“
“Absolutely gutted to hear the tragic news…. Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.“
“Dave saved the lives of four people this weekend, he did so without any regards to his own safety and most likely at the expense of his own life… there really are no words to express what a hero Dave showed himself to be… You'll be truly missed Dave and what you did shall never be forgotten.“
Our hearts go out to Dave's and Michelle's families at this hideous time.