The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into a river in Sydney and killed an entire family has been described as a devout Christian who prayed before each of his flights.
Mr. Morgan was piloting a seaplane with a British family onboard when the aircraft ran into problems and plummeted into the Hawkesbury River, New South Wales. Many witnesses onboard nearby boats tried to dive down to the plane but were hindered by leaking jet fuel, poor visibility and the fact the plane was sinking at a rapid rate, as reported by The Sydney Herald.
Canadian-born Gareth Morgan reportedly “committed every flight to the Lord” and was “a warrior for Christ,” according to his 44-year-old’s flatmate Luke Thornley.
“He read the Bible every day and would always say a prayer to bless every plane he flew and keep him and his passengers safe before flying,” Thornley continued. “When I’d come home at night he would have praise and worship songs playing on his 60-inch TV on YouTube.”
A member of Pentecostal Jubilee Church in Waverley, he was known as a humble man who would often be seen standing at the back during church service.
“He was a gentle, quiet and incredibly kind,” Jubilee Pastor Fini de Gersigny said, as reported by The Sydney Daily Telegraph. “He lived for God and would stand at the back of the church every Sunday, dressed immaculately.”
Pastor Fini added that Morgan was a “true gentleman with a big heart.”
On board were British businessman Richard Cousins, his two adult sons Edward and William, his fiancee Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather. Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings from the NSW Police Marine Area Command revealed that the families of Mr Cousins and Ms Bowden were still traveling to Sydney.
“I’m sure they are devastated,” he said. “This is something that’s going to take a long time to come to terms with.” The plane wreckage has now been lifted up from the river bed. Hutchings said there would be a “thorough” search of the area once the major pieces of the plane had been recovered, with divers working in tricky “zero visibility” conditions.
He also stated that the body of the plane was in terrible condition, indicating a catastrophic crash into the surface of the water. “From the time that the wreckage was brought on the barge, we saw there was severe damage to the plane. It appeared there had been quite an impact on hitting the water,” he said.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau executive director Nat Nagy told reporters:
“We are reasonably confident that we will be able to do a thorough examination of the key components of the aircraft, to understand whether they were operating correctly at the time.”
Onlookers captured the final moments on camera as the plane circled over the Hawkesbury river:
Police are also reportedly looking into the pilot’s state of mind prior to the crash, according to The Independent. However, Morgan’s flatmate believes he appeared completely fine “As far as we are aware, Gareth was fine and happy and didn’t give the impression anything was wrong,” Thornley said.
“He went for runs every morning,” Thornley continued, adding that Morgan was “excited at the prospect of becoming a commercial pilot for Qantas, and was studying for exams.”
The interest in Mr Morgan’s state of mind came after it was reported that the doomed DHC-2 Beaver seaplane had previously been involved in another fatal crash back in 1996.