Belfast Telegraph

We know exactly what families are going through: Says sister of Kegworth air disaster

By Victoria Leonard

The sister of a man who narrowly avoided death in the Kegworth air disaster said she has been re-traumatised by Thursday's plane crash.

Yvonne McCoy's brother Stephen (46) was left brain-damaged and paralysed down his right side after being involved in the accident which killed 47 people in Leicestershire in January 1989.

Ms McCoy extended her "deepest sympathies" to the families of the Nutts Corner crash victims, and said her severely injured brother had "tears in his eyes" when he learned of Thursday's tragedy.

Mr McCoy was lucky to survive the Kegworth disaster.

The plane developed engine trouble a short time into the journey from Heathrow to Belfast, and the pilots were later said to have shut down the wrong engine in response, sending it plummeting to the ground.

Then just 16 years old and on his first trip away from home alone, Stephen's family had to wait almost 15 hours to find out that he had survived the crash.

Now, almost three decades later, Yvonne is a full-time carer for the once-promising young boxer, and says the family are "traumatised" anew every time they hear news of a plane crash.

"We were watching the news and having our dinner on Thursday when it came on about the Nutts Corner crash - Stephen dropped his fork," she said. "He put his head up and there were wee tears in his eyes. He said, 'That's very sad.'

"When something like that happens it changes your life forever. My heart goes out to the families who have lost their loved ones. We still have Stephen.

"Those families will never speak to their brother or son or husband again.

"They will think to themselves, 'What's the last thing I said to him?', and they will need a lot of support.

"When you hear something like that it brings everything back. It's re-traumatising. We know exactly what they're going through."

After the Kegworth crash, Mr McCoy spent three years in hospital, and at one stage doctors contemplated turning off his life support machine.

However, after being blessed with a relic belonging to Padre Pio, Yvonne says Stephen started to move one of his toes, and began his slow journey to be able to return to the family home.

Years later, Yvonne says she "still gets weepy" when she hears news of another plane crash.

"It's hard for the families, I feel so sorry for them," she continued.

"My deepest sympathies, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Nutts Corner crash."

Belfast Telegraph

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