Air France disaster victim’s family search for closure

A LOCAL relative of one of the young doctors killed in the 2009 Air France plane disaster says the family only wants ‘closure’, no matter what the result of the current manslaughter trial in Paris may be.
Belcoo native Fr Michael McGourty is an uncle of Eithne Walls from Ballygowan, Co Down. Eithne was one of three Irish doctors along with Jane Deasy from Rathgar, Co Dublin and Aisling Butler from Roscrea, Co Tipperary who were killed when Flight 447 plunged into the Atlantic on May 31 killing all 228 people on board.
All three graduated from medical school at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) in 2007 and were returning from a holiday in Brazil on June 1st, 2009 when the tragedy took place.
A manslaughter trial over the 2009 crash of Air France flight 447 opened in Paris last week with relatives demanding justice 13 years after the jetliner ploughed into the Atlantic.
“It would be great for all the families to get the final outcome that they are looking for,” Fr McGourty said. “But Eithne’s family just wants closure now once and for all.
This has been going on for so long and has been brought up so often, they just want it [the court case] to end.
“They are tired of the whole thing. The wee girl is gone and no matter what is the result of the court case, it’s not going to bring her back.
“It was a heartbreaking loss for the family. The grieving will never be over, but people can be accepting of what happened and can try to move on as best they can.
“For many, to get this court case finally resolved would help them to achieve that.”
The former Devenish Parish Priest, who bid a fond farewell to Irvinestown in September, 2018, after 20 years and retired to be Pastor Emeritus in Ballyshannon and support pastoral ministry in the parishes of Bundoran, Ballyshannon and Belleek-Garrison, was pragmatic about the nine-week trial.
“Personally, so long as all the families involved get some closure concerning it as hundreds were killed in the crash, and it can all be put to rest, that’s what matters most now,” Father McGourty said.
Flight AF447 was en route overnight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when it disappeared off the radar in the middle of a storm over the Atlantic on June 1st, 2009.
It took four minutes and 24 seconds for the plane to fall 11,500 metres out of the night sky, during which the “stall” warning sounded 75 times, according to cockpit recordings.
The grief of the victims’ families quickly erupted into anger at the court case last week as the chief executives of Air France and Airbus pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and offered their condolences.
“Shame” and “too little, too late” rang out in the court as Anne Rigail and Guillaume Faury made their opening statements.

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