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Helicopter crash: Second person who died in accident named

A general view of the crane on top of St Georges Tower close to the scene where a helicopter crashed in central London. Picture: Sarah Grun/PA Wire A general view of the crane on top of St Georges Tower close to the scene where a helicopter crashed in central London. Picture: Sarah Grun/PA Wire

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
9:32 PM

The second person who died when a helicopter crashed in Vauxhall has been named.

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The scene in London showing where a helicopter crahed into a car after colliding with a crane on top of a tower block in south London this morning. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PAThe scene in London showing where a helicopter crahed into a car after colliding with a crane on top of a tower block in south London this morning. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Earlier the helicopter’s pilot, Peter Barnes, 50, from Berkshire, was named as one of two fatalities.

Although formal identification of both victims has yet to take place, police believe the second man is Matthew Wood, 39, from Sutton. He was on the ground when the aircraft crashed this morning, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The families of both men have been informed and family liaison officers are currently with them.

The helicopter crashed to the ground in Wandsworth Road after clipping a crane on top of a building under construction in Nine Elms Lane.

Mr Barnes, who piloted helicopters for movies including Die Another Day, was alone in the aircraft amid thick cloud when it clipped the structure on top of one of Europe’s largest skyscrapers.

A number of other people were also injured, including one person with a broken leg, although police said it was a “miracle” more were not injured.

Kevin Hodgson, who worked alongside Mr Barnes on life-saving missions with the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA), said: “Pete was as good a guy as you can imagine and one of the best pilots I’ve ever had the pleasure of flying with.”

In the aftermath of the crash, questions were raised over the safety of aircraft flying over London, especially as the number of high-rise blocks being built increases.

But sources said lights fitted to the crane were in place and were checked twice daily - including yesterday.

Commander Neil Basu, of the Metropolitan Police, said: “It was something of a miracle that this was not many, many times worse.”

But in one case of good fortune, it was reported that the crane driver avoided near-certain death because he was late for his shift and had not reached his cabin.

Witnesses described hearing a loud bang and a flash of light as debris scattered across the sky and the twin-engine aircraft crashed near Wandsworth Road.

Video footage and photos flooded on to social media sites revealing chaotic scenes, burning wreckage and vehicles charred by flames.

Staff at Redhill Aerodrome, in Surrey confirmed the helicopter left the site at 7.35am, while the owner of London Heliport said Mr Barnes requested to land at one of its sites via Heathrow air traffic control.

But the Heliport never established contact with the pilot and shortly before 8am the emergency services started to receive hundreds of calls reporting the crash.

The eight-seater aircraft is owned by Cornwall-based Castle Air but was leased to another firm RotorMotion, which is based at Redhill Aerodrome.

Captain Philip Amadeus, managing director of RotorMotion, an executive helicopter charter business, said the aircraft was on a commercial flight to Elstree.

He said: “Our main priority now is for the family of the pilot and we extend our greatest sympathy to the friends and relatives of those who have died and been injured.”

Mr Barnes, who also flew aircraft for films Tombraider II and Saving Private Ryan, had around 9,000 hours of flying time, including 3,500 hours on the type of craft involved in the incident.

A relative who answered the intercom at Mr Barnes’s home in the small rural village of Goddard’s Green near Mortimer, Berkshire, said she did not want to comment and asked that the family’s privacy was respected.

Neighbour David Sinclair, 66, said: “We saw the helicopter come and go every now and again, as he had a helipad in the garden and parked it there. The accident is very sad. It’s unbelievable, really.”

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