Schoolgirl in airshow trauma

A SCHOOLGIRL today described the awesome spectacle of seeing a RAF jet hover above her head and then plunge into the sea just metres away from her.Keely Rutter, of Westbourne Road, Ipswich, was splashing around in the surf on Lowestoft's seafront when the Harrier GR7 jumpjet suddenly lost power and crashed into the waves.

BY GEORGINA JAMES

georgina.james@eveningstar.co.uk

A SCHOOLGIRL today described the awesome spectacle of seeing an RAF jet hover above her head and then plunge into the sea just metres away from her.

Keely Rutter, of Westbourne Road, Ipswich, was splashing around in the surf on Lowestoft's seafront when the Harrier GR7 jumpjet suddenly lost power and crashed into the waves.

Eleven-year-old Keely said: "It was quite frightening and I was a little scared but I didn't feel I was in any real danger. It was all over so quickly but everyone around me was extremely shocked.

"The jet was hovering a short distance above the water and was taking its last bow when the power went and it crashed into the sea.

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"The lifeboat was quickly on the scene and a man shouted at us to get out of the water because of the chemicals."

She was enjoying the annual Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival with her family with thousands of others.

Keely's mother, Sue, was watching the display on South Beach when the jumpjet, based at RAF Wittering, crashed.

"Keely was in the water and was just metres away from where the jet ended up.

"I was so relieved when I saw that the pilot had ejected but my thoughts then immediately turned to my daughter.

"I was obviously very worried and I shot down to the shore to see if she was okay and thankfully she was far enough away from the plane."

The salvage operation was continuing today as RAF operators prepared to lift the wreck of the jet.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said: "The scene is being preserved and we are not expecting any movement of the aircraft until tomorrow."

Mrs Rutter and her family have been to about eight air shows in the past and say that yesterday's events, coming so soon after last week's airshow horror in Ukraine where 83 people were killed when a supersonic jet crashed into the crowd, will not deter them from going again.

"We will go back to Lowestoft next year as they always put on a good show.

"The crash has not put us off from going and we will continue to support them. I am just disappointed that my favourite plane crashed."

Keely added: "Yesterday was definitely my most memorable air show."

Fortunately no one was hurt in the crash, which happened at 4pm yesterday. The pilot, Flt Lt Tony Cann, ejected safely seconds before the plane hit the water.

The Sea King from Wattisham was at the scene within 20 minutes and captain, Squadron Leader Simon Snashall, said the pilot had been put on a stretcher as a matter of course.

He said while in the Sea King, the airman voiced concerns that the ejector seat had headed towards the crowds – but it landed harmlessly in the sea.

Weblinks

www.eastcoastfestivals.co.uk

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