Inquiry begins after tragic Florida plane deaths of city siblings

AN investigation is under way after a young brother and sister from Midlothian died when their light plane nosedived into a swamp in Florida.

TRAGIC: Carly Beattie and her brother Daniel

Student pilot Carly Beattie, 21, and her 24-year-old brother Daniel, both of Penicuik, Midlothian, died when the Cessna 152 flown by Ms Beattie crashed into a swampy, wooded area near Blue Cypress Lake in Indian River County.

The cause of the crash is unknown. Some sources have suggested it could take months to determine what happened.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board in America, and the Federal Aviation Administration, have made their way to the crash site.

Firefighters and police had to reach the crash site on foot through dense woodland and swamp as there was no road access, and the bodies were carried from the plane back through the swamp by hand.

Police deputy Matt Davis, who visited the crash site, said the plane appeared to have nosedived, with the engine buried in deep mud and the fuselage split in two behind the cockpit. One wing was wrapped around a tree. "It's horrible," he said of the scene, adding that it was "extremely difficult to get around" at the site.

Ms Beattie, a former pupil at St George's girls school in Edinburgh, was in the US as part of her degree course in Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training at Buckinghamshire New University. It is understood her parents and her brother were staying with her on Merritt Island, around 50 miles north of the crash site.

The Beatties had chartered the plane from a firm called Space Coast Aviation at Merritt Island Airport at around 10am on Thursday, scheduled for a three-hour flight.

A spokesman for Brevard County Sheriff's Office, Lt. John Mellick, said: "Apparently Space Coast Aviation has a protocol for overdue planes. After they exhausted all of their scenarios they contacted us."

Police located the fallen plane using a mobile phone signal from one of the Beatties.

It was close to the border of Osceola and Indian River counties. Police there were alerted around 11pm on Thursday, and sent up search helicopters, which detected the plane's emergency beacon. They found the wreckage using lights from the helicopters in the early hours on Friday morning.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Ms Beattie was a second year student on the BA (Hons) in Air Transport with Commercial Pilot Training at Buckinghamshire New University.

Vice Chancellor Professor Ruth Farwell said: "Our thoughts are with Carly's family and friends at this difficult time and we are actively supporting fellow students on the air transport with commercial pilot training course."

Sprinter Carly had hoped to compete in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014. Carly's coach from City of Edinburgh Athletics Club, Bill Walker, said: "This is devastating news.

"It had always been Carly's dream to be a pilot, even when she was at school. She was very committed in everything she did - she would push herself to the limit. Carly always wanted to do more training rather than less.

Her dad built her a gym at their home so she could keep in shape. She had an illness where her white blood cells were being eaten up, the cells you need for sprinting. But she wouldn't give in and had the potential to go a lot further."Dougie Halliday, 64, a neighbour of parents Thomas, 54 - a pharmacist - and Elaine, 52, said: "They are a smashing couple who will be absolutely devastated. They lived for their children, as most parents do."