Experts start work to identify Shoreham air crash victims


Formal identification of the victims of the Shoreham air crash will continue as investigations go on into what caused the disaster.

It is believed that at least 11 people were killed when the vintage Hawker Hunter Jet plummeted on to the A27 below, exploding into a fireball.

The busy road has been closed since the crash on Saturday, and Sussex Police have announced that it is due to reopen on Bank Holiday Monday.

West Sussex County Council's senior coroner Penny Schofield said the formal identification of the victims has begun.

But the plane crashed with such force that specialists - including forensic archaeologists, anthropologists, odontologists and pathologists - are having to examine the DNA, teeth and human remains to discover who was killed in the disaster.

Ms Schofield said: "Recovery of all the remains from the scene is almost complete due to the extremely hard work and dedication of police teams and archaeologists, who have been working in extremely difficult conditions."

"We will now begin the formal process of identifying all the victims of this horrific tragedy.

"Recovering all the remains has been a very slow and painstaking operation, but it has been necessary to ensure we establish, without doubt, individual positive identifications."

Ms Schofield has met with the families to explain the process and, once identification is complete, then she will open inquests into these deaths.

The plane wreckage has been sent to Farnborough, Hampshire, where Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigators will seek to find out what caused the crash.

An interim report is due in the next few days.

The jet's pilot, Andrew Hill. was left fighting for his life after the crash, and has now been moved to a specialist hospital for treatment.

Mr Hill had been placed in a medically induced coma at the Royal Sussex County Hospital following the incident, but has now been transferred to an undisclosed location.

A spokesman for the Brighton and Hove NHS Foundation Trust said: "He (Mr Hill) is in a critical but stable condition, but has been moved to an unnamed specialist hospital."

It is believed the jet's seats were in place when it was found, suggesting that Mr Hill may not have ejected before impact.

The plane is understood to have not been carrying a black box flight recorder.

According to The Royal Air Forces Association Mr Hill was not originally meant to be flying the jet on Saturday.

Chris Heames was listed as the display pilot in the air show's programme, and it was only decided last month that Mr Hill would fly the aircraft instead.

But he told Sky News that performing aerobatics over land was safe and that if allowed, he would continue to do so.

Mr Heames said: "It is a hard time and we're sort of doing our best to support each other and get through it.

"I talked to my wife about it and between us we decided there is no reason not to continue, provided the CAA permit us to do it."

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced restrictions on air shows "until further notice" and on the flying of vintage jets in the wake of the crash.

An airshow scheduled to take place at Durham Tees Valley Airport on Saturday has been postponed in light of the tragedy.

Skylive Events announced that the disaster, together with the CAA's decision to impose restrictions on the operation of air shows, meant that the event would not be going ahead as scheduled.

It has been rescheduled for Saturday May 28 and tickets issued for this weekend will remain valid for next May.

The names of six men believed to have been killed in the tragedy have emerged.

The four confirmed victims include Worthing United footballers and best friends Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, both 23, who were on their way to play a match when they were killed.

Personal trainer Matt Jones, 24, also died, along with limousine chauffeur Maurice Abrahams, 76, a former soldier who had served in the Parachute Regiment.

Motorcyclist Mark Trussler and Daniele Polito, a father from Worthing, are both missing and are feared to have been killed in the tragedy.