Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Air crash survivor meets rescuer

Kegworth air disaster scene
Forty-seven people were killed in the Kegworth Air Disaster in 1989

A County Down man who was pulled alive from the wreckage of one of the UK's worst air tragedies is to meet the man who rescued him, 20 years on.

Alan Johnston, from Strangford, survived the Kegworth air disaster which claimed the lives of 47 people, but it took the power of the internet to reunite him with the man who helped save him.

The Belfast-bound plane crashed on an embankment of the M1 motorway while the pilots tried to make an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport in January 1989.

It later emerged that one engine had failed on the British Midland Boeing 737 flight, but the crew mistakenly shut down the remaining good engine.

It was very moving to talk on the telephone to the man who had been so involved in saving my life as I was barely conscious by the time I was removed from the wreckage."
Kegworth survivor Alan Johnston

Mr Johnston was one of more than 70 survivors, and was trapped in the broken fuselage for two hours.

It was years later that he found out a RNLI crew had helped to remove casualties from the wreckage by lifting them on stretchers across the wing of the aircraft - which was how he was brought to safety.

He recently published a book of weather-themed photographs and dedicated a section to the RNLI, in which he referred to the disaster but surmised that he would never be able to track down his rescuer.

However, thanks to the worldwide web, he was subsequently able to locate the very man who had lifted him onto a stretcher, and sent him on his way to hospital.

He got in contact with Barrie Brigham of Withernsea, Yorkshire, who is now 64-years-old.

Mr Johnston said: "It was very moving to talk on the telephone to the man who had been so involved in saving my life as I was barely conscious by the time I was removed from the wreckage."

On Tuesday, he will be able to thank his rescuer in person, as Mr Brigham has been invited to the launch of the new book in Portaferry.

Part of the proceeds of the book launch will be donated to the RNLI.



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Remembering Kegworth 20 years on
08 Jan 09 |  Northern Ireland


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