Leeca Marie Laverick & Anthony Peter AtkinsonPrint Page
On the basis of the slim physical evidence available, it seems certain the nine people who lost their lives in the Seaview Air disaster died in the most terrifying circumstances.
On October 2, 1994, pilot Paul Sheil, en route from Williamtown to Lord Howe Island, sent a radio message that his aircraft was being shaken by serious vibration and that he was descending to 16,000 feet. Moments later the radio went dead, and it is believed the aircraft plunged straight into the sea. The few bits of scattered wreckage which were recovered from the crash site indicated a fire had probably engulfed the aircraft.
On board the Aero Commander aircraft on that day were honeymooners Leeca and Anthony Atkinson from Newcastle, Hunter Valley winemakers Reg and Pam Drayton, Stephen and Carolyn Lake and their children, Judith, 18 and Benjamin, 13. No bodies were ever recovered, and for their families and friends, the anguish of their loss is unending.
What is now clear is that the accident was entirely avoidable - that it should not have happened, that those nine lives were lost needlessly. Yesterday in Federal Parliament, Aviation Minister John Sharp tabled the Commission of Inquiry report into relations between Seaview Air and the former Civil Aviation Authority, and more comprehensive denunciation of safety standards it is difficult to imagine.
The Commission of Inquiry pulled no punches. Seaview Air was "a slipshod, often wilfully non-compliant organisation in which breaches of regulations and unacceptable practices were . . . commonplace", the report found.
On the day of the disaster, the twin-engined turbo-prop aircraft was 220kg overweight - equivalent to three extra adult passengers - which is unsurprising in light of the fact the company had not even weighed the luggage loaded on to the plane. Pilot Sheils was not validly licensed to fly the aircraft. The aircraft itself had not been properly serviced according to regular maintenance schedules. The litany of breaches of regulations is as long as it is alarming. The astonishing thing is that plane managed to get off the ground at all.
Now it is time for a reckoning. The Commission of Inquiry found Seaview operator John Green, chief pilot Clive McIver and CAA officers Ian Paull and Peter Bryant had all "lacked diligence in the discharge of their respective responsibilities" and those findings have been passed to the Director of Public Prosecution for possible legal action.
In due course, those directly responsible for the Seaview tragedy will be judged and punished - though that is likely to bring small comfort to those whose loved ones were lost. What is needed is resolute action to see no such disaster - born of incompetence and negligence - is permitted to happen again. Yesterday, Mr Sharp called for a comprehensive overhaul of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority - which replaced the CAA including the appointment of new CASA board, with specific aviation expertise.
The Daily Telegraph, 17 January 2008.
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LEECA MARIE MAVERICK born 1968 and
ANTHONY PETER ATKINSON born 1968
were married in St John`s 1st Oct. 1994
Died Seaview air crash 2nd Oct. 1994
"Together you shall be together for evermore"
These windows are dedicated in loving memory of Leeca and Anthony
By their families and friends