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Boeing 737 crashed into M1 leaving 47 dead after pilots ‘switched off wrong engine’

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Over three decades have passed since the Kegworth air crash which claimed 47 lives and shocked the world.

On the “fateful night” of January 8, 1989, a Boeing 737-400 en route to Belfast from London Heathrow was forced to divert to East Midlands Airport for an emergency landing after a snapped fan blade wrecked the plane’s left engine.

Pilots trying to deal with what reports described as a ‘million to one fault’ accidentally switched off the wrong engine, causing them to lose altitude.

The plane eventually came down agonisingly short of the runway, smashing into the embankment on the side of the M1 motorway and breaking into three pieces.

There were 126 people on board – 47 died, while 74 of the 79 survivors sustained serious injuries.

Stephen McCoy, who was just 16 at the time, was one of the most seriously injured victims and his life-changing injuries put an end to his ‘promising’ boxing career.

The Belfast-bound British Midland Boeing 737 which crashed on an embankment of the M1 at Kegworth

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He was left with brain damage and was partially paralysed.

Doctors did not expect him to survive and even asked his father if they could turn off his life support machine.

However, he persevered and in 2018, he was finally able to take his first steps thanks to a futuristic exoskeleton suit that supports him and helps move his injured limbs using electronic motors.

He now lives in a specially adapted house in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, with his older sister Yvonne, who is his carer.

wreckage

The wreckage of the Kegworth air disaster

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She told Derbyshire Live: “He wants a miracle. He has great faith. He really wants a big miracle… the big miracle of being able to walk again.”

After the crash was investigated, the pilots were sacked from British Midland in January 1991.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said they acted hastily and contrary to their training.

Stephen McCoy

Stephen McCoy was a promising boxer before the tragedy

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But in a BBC documentary in April 1991, Captain Kevin Hunt from Aston-upon-Trent in Derbyshire, claimed that they were used as ‘scapegoats’ by the company and that it was ‘easier’ to get rid of them.

He said: “We were the easy option – the cheap option if you wish. We made a mistake – we both made mistakes – but the question we would like answered is why we made those mistakes.”

Captain Hunt, who was one of British Midland’s most experienced pilots, spent years in a wheelchair after suffering spinal and leg injuries in the crash.

list of the dead kegworth

The accident claimed the lives of 47 people

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His co-pilot, David McClelland, from Donaghadee, County Down, was less badly hurt but still spent several months in hospital.

In August 1991, the Nottinghamshire Post reported that Mr McClelland received almost £10,000 from British Midland in an out-of-court settlement after claiming unfair dismissal.

A spokesperson for the company said the settlement was made on purely commercial grounds and was not an admission that the airline had acted wrongly in dismissing the pilot.

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