Shoreham plane crash - full report

A family of three was killed when its Shoreham-based aircraft crashed in the French Alps.

Thursday, 15th February 2007, 9:58 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 11:44 pm

Renowned economist Dr Shimon Awerbuch, 60, his partner Maria Ribiero and his seven-year-old son Everett died when his Piper PA34 Seneca lost control in a snow storm.

The twin-engine light aircraft slammed into the side of a mountain in the Grand Veymont area, killing all three instantly.

Dr Awerbuch's colleagues at the Sussex Energy Group, based at the University of Sussex in Falmer, Brighton, described him as a generous, enthusiastic and creative man.

The family had set off from Shoreham Airport at 10am on Saturday for a half-term holiday in Cannes, on the French Riviera, with Dr Awerbuch piloting the aircraft.

He contacted air traffic control at about 2pm to say he was in trouble. The aircraft disappeared from radar screens moments later. Rescue helicopters were sent to try to locate it, but struggled in the weather conditions and could not begin a proper search until later that evening.

The operation, involving up to 100 men and at least five helicopters, lasted through Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

A mountain rescue team who had set out on foot, wearing snow shoes to cope with the snowfall of around eight inches, eventually found the wreckage just before midday.

Dr Awerbuch, an American national and senior fellow at the University of Sussex, had moved to Brighton around five years ago from Paris.

He was a keen pilot and regularly flew the Piper PA34 Seneca plane, which he owned, to destinations around the world. It had been modified to cope with long-distance flights.

Shoreham Airport manager John Haffenden said: "This is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the family's relatives and those involved. The plane certainly flew regularly from here to other airports both in the UK and abroad."