Minute's silence held for Shoreham air crash victims


Hundreds of people in communities touched by the Shoreham air crash fell silent exactly one week on from the disaster which claimed at least 11 lives.

A minute's silence was observed at 1.20pm, the time last Saturday when a vintage Hawker Hunter jet crashed onto the busy A27 in West Sussex.

The disaster happened as the 1950s plane failed to pull out of a loop-the-loop stunt during the Shoreham Airshow before crashing, exploding into a fireball.

In the shadow of the crash site, people young and old gathered on a wooden bridge over the River Adur where thousands of floral tributes have been laid in memory of the victims.

As the silence was observed, many stood visibly moved on the Old Shoreham Tollbridge, which has become a focal point for the community to remember those who lost their lives.

Members of the Surrey and Sussex Drum and Bugle Corps sounded the Last Post before the crowd fell silent.

Bugler James Williams, 31, from Worthing, spoke of his link to the disaster and the sense of rawness which still exists.

He said: "My dad Ian Williams saw the plane going up on the other side of the Southwick Tunnel and as he came through it crashed.

"If it wasn't for the fact that the person he was picking up was late he could potentially have been caught up in it.

"It makes it harder for us to play. Nothing is settled and it's all so raw at the moment."

West Sussex senior coroner Penelope Schofield confirmed that formal identification of the victims has been completed and all families informed. Inquests into their deaths will open on Wednesday in Horsham.

Ms Schofield said: "Identifying all 11 victims has been a difficult process due to the horrific nature of the accident and the intensity of the fire."

The search is continuing at the scene in order to recover all the remains, West Sussex County Council said.

Adur District Council leader Neil Parkin said: "These community events demonstrate the strength of the feelings shared by everyone who has been touched by this tragedy.

"The experience of sharing a minute of silence is so powerful and will be a fitting moment of reflection one week on."

Worthing Borough Council leader Daniel Humphreys said: "At times such as these, opportunities to come together are more important than ever."

Tony Brightwell, 53, from Hove, a health care manager for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Brighton and Hove City Council, is the latest victim to be named.

Grandfather Mark Reeves, 53, who died after parking his motorbike on the outskirts of Shoreham Airshow to take photographs of the planes, is also among the dead.

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

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

Motorcyclist Mark Trussler is also feared dead. Mr Trussler's fiancee, Giovanna Chirico, wrote on Facebook of her grief. Sussex Police have not officially confirmed his death.

She wrote: "Yesterday my worst fears were confirmed and I lost not just my fiance but my best friend, soul mate and sidekick.

"No words can describe how much all ur family and friends r going to miss u. So glad I got to spend the last 12 years of my life with u an love u always and eternally."

The sister of Daniele Polito, a father from Worthing, wrote on her Facebook page of her "last few painful days" and her loss for her brother. Police have also yet to officially confirm his death.

Police have released images from the crash site, showing the debris-strewn aftermath of the crash on the A27 and forensic investigators gathering clues.

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

The disaster rocked the community, which has rallied by donating more than £15,000 to an online appeal, while a local nursery offered free childcare to victims' families and survivors.

The A27 has been closed since the crash, and Sussex Police said it is due to reopen on Bank Holiday Monday.

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.

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes, the senior identification manager at Sussex Police, confirmed 11 victims have been formally identified.

He said: "We cannot discount any further victims as our search at the scene continues but we have no reason to suspect that there is anyone else."