Pilot committed suicide through “fear and guilt” after death crash

The scene at Cork Airport where six people died.
The scene at Cork Airport where six people died.
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A PILOT was found hanged after feeling guilty about an air crash that killed six people, including a Sunderland man.

Oliver Lee, 29, quit Manx2 airlines days before the plane he used to fly crashed, killing co-pilot Andrew Cantle, from Moorside, in Sunderland.

Manx2 CoPilot Andrew Cantle

Manx2 CoPilot Andrew Cantle

But Mr Lee was wracked with guilt and told his family he believed the disaster would have been averted if he had been in the cockpit.

His body was found in the stables of the home he shared with his father David, 54, and sister Harriet, 21.

Mr Cantle (pictured), 27, and Spanish pilot Jordi Lopez, 31, were making a third attempt to bring down the turboprop aircraft in thick fog after a flight from Belfast to Cork in February.

Mr Oliver, of East Morton, West Yorks, had flown twice a day between Belfast and Cork while working for Manx2. Five days after he left, his old plane crash-landed at Cork, killing Mr Cantle and four passengers.

His father David, a company director, said the disaster had “affected him profoundly”.

He added: “It was an utter shock to Oliver as he knew the pilot very well.

“The shock developed into guilt because Oliver felt it should have been him at the controls. He felt strongly that if he’d been there nobody would have died.

“He knew the fog problems associated with Cork and would say he would have either postponed the flight for safety reasons or landed without incident.

“Oliver was also overcome by fear and it seemed to have suddenly hit him what can happen in the aviation industry. The fear and guilt just ate away at him.

“Me and his colleague told him there was nothing he could have done and it wasn’t his fault, but he couldn’t accept it.

“It all got too much for him. If I’d known he was suicidal I wouldn’t have let him out of my sight.”

Pilot Lopez had to abort two landings and on a third attempt the right wing tip of the aircraft clipped the runway.

The plane overturned, skidded 200 yards and caught fire. Six people survived.

Speaking after the fatal smash, Mr Cantle’s parents, John, 58, and Ann, 56, paid tribute to their son.

Mrs Cantle believed Andrew, who lived in York with air stewardess girlfriend Beth Webster, was not even meant to be on the fateful flight.

She said: “He’d only been in the job for two weeks. We didn’t think he was meant to be flying today - he told us he wasn’t.”