DARK DAY: The wreck of the air ambulance crash in Bundaberg on June 21, 1987 made headlines across the state.
DARK DAY: The wreck of the air ambulance crash in Bundaberg on June 21, 1987 made headlines across the state.

Remembering tragic plane crash that rocked Bundaberg

TODAY marks the 30th anniversary of the Wide Bay Aerial Ambulance crash that shook the Bundaberg community.

At 3.18am on Sunday June 21, 1987 a Medevac Cessna 402-C aircraft was destroyed after colliding with a tree 800m from the end of the runway, killing four of the five people on board.

The air ambulance craft was transporting Noela Petersen, 45, who was shot in the stomach by her estranged husband to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

Noela Petersen was killed in the crash along with Bundaberg Base Hospital nursing Sister Mavis Endres, 33, Bundaberg ambulance officer Jim McPherson, 27, and relied pilot from Brisbane John Nelson.

DARK DAY: News coverage of the air ambulance crash in Bundaberg on June 21, 1987.
DARK DAY: News coverage of the air ambulance crash in Bundaberg on June 21, 1987.

Former doctor Philip Sweeney was the sole occupant to walk away from the rubble, suffered only burns to his hands.

An Aviation Safety Investigation Report states the wreckage near Von Deest St was almost "totally consumed by fire”.

Despite an investigation, the cause of the accident is still undetermined due to a lack of sufficient evidence.

The Courier Mail also covered the local carnage.
The Courier Mail also covered the local carnage.

Some of the significant factors outlined in the report include a hurried departure, fog bank, the aircraft's defective engine fire warning system, possible electric elevator trim malfunction or an internal fire, or the pilot may have " experienced the somatogravic illusion and inadvertently flown the aircraft into the ground”.

As a respected member of the nursing staff, the NewsMail reported in 1987 that a guard of honour was performed for Mrs Endres at her funeral.

DARK DAY: News coverage of the air ambulance crash in Bundaberg on June 21, 1987.
DARK DAY: News coverage of the air ambulance crash in Bundaberg on June 21, 1987.

Bureau of Air Safety inspector Geoff Banfield told the NewsMail that he could not account for Mr Sweeney's survival, putting it down to "divine intervention”.

The ex-doctor was put behind bars in 2009 after he allegedly tried to inject his 91-year-old mother with a dangerous substance.

A memorial service will be held at the Bundaberg Ambulance Station with the Queensland Ambulance Service commissioner at 1pm today to honour the local everyday heroes who lost their life in the crash.



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