Some of the victims of the tragedy (from left): Latoya James, Valda Simon, Anne-Marie Guye,Marcus Alleyne Webster

On August 23, 1998, 14 years ago today, Dominica suffered its worst air disaster when Cardinal Airline Flight 947 from St. Maarten to Dominica disappeared and crashed around 5:33 pm on approach to the Melville Hall Airport.

Marlon Royer

On board were ten Dominicans and one pilot.

Events that led to the tragedy began unfolding when the Cessna 402, owned and operated by Air Anguilla, was given clearance by air traffic controllers to land. Around that same time it is reported that a LIAT pilot saw the airplane at about 800 feet above the approach, and some three miles south west of the Melville Hall runway.

Soon after, the LIAT pilot reported that he began recieving distress signals from the Cessna.

The airplane never arrived at its Mellville Hall Airport destination.

Word soon spread and a search party immediately began looking for the ill-fated aircraft but the search was called off due to bad weather. Dominica was being affected by an intense tropical wave that day.

The following day the weather lifted and a farmer in the Vauxhall area discovered parts of an aircraft and reported this to the police. It was confirmed that it was the missing aircraft.

Rescue workers and the curious rushed to the site and many wept openly as a survey revealed battered and bleeding bodies, some with near severed limbs, strewned around the aircraft. The site also revealed that the plane had lost a wing, an engine, and its fuselage, as it ripped through trees before coming to a halt.

The nation was in a state of shock as news emerged that ten bodies were recovered from the site. But a glimmer of hope appeared in all the gloom when it was announced that 10-year-old Kelly John from Newtown was found unconscious. He was rushed first to the Marigot Hospital then to the Princess Margaret Hospital for emergency medical attention.

But all hopes were dashed the following day at 3:00 pm when news broke that despite valiant efforts by doctors, Kelly had died.

Kelly, a student of St. Mary’s Primary, had traveled to St. Maarten to spend summer holidays with his mother, and was returning home for school.

In addition to Kelly, those on the plane that fateful day were serving police officer, Glenville Lewis, Josephine and Nyanna Francois, Jonathan Lake, Latoya James, Valda Simon, Marcus “Alleyne” Webster, Ann-Marie Guye, Marlon Royer and Captain Ilouba “Chris” Adingupu from Nigeria.