Memories of Tyrone mother and brother killed in Kegworth disaster

Kegworth air disaster
Kegworth air disaster

The relative of a Tyrone woman and her son who were killed in the Kegworth Air disaster has spoken of how the event profoiundly changed his life.

When British Midland flight 92 crashed on the M1 25 years ago, Michael Hynds lost his mother and 15-year-old brother.

Patricia Irwin, from Beragh, and Peter Hynds had travelled to London for a family wedding and were returning home on the doomed flight.

Mr Hynds, now a chartered accountant, was 17 at the time and did not go because he was studying for his A-Levels.

But when he arrived at Belfast Airport to pick them up, he saw their flight, which left Heathrow at 7.52pm, was delayed.

Then the information screen changed to “delayed indefinitely” and he was told that the plane had made an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport.

Shortly afterwards, everyone waiting was called into the airport’s business centre.

He said: “We realised when we went in there that something was up. There were some staff starting to lay out food and about seven or eight sombre-faced British Midland local managers and other ground staff there.”

As engineers plugged in phones in the room, they were told that the plane had “come down” on the M1.

Mr Hynds thought they had used the motorway as an emergency runway and did not realise the full horror until he saw the news coverage the next day.

He said: “We were told at that stage that there were five fatalities.”

He did not find out his relatives had died until the next afternoon, after an evening spent calling East Midlands hospitals for news.

He said: “No one was really panicking or going off in hysterics. It was a very calm environment – but anxious.”

At about 8am he boarded the charter flight to East Midlands Airport, still not knowing if his mother, Patricia Ann Irwin, and brother, Peter Hynds, were alive.

He said: “When we took off from Belfast it was a grisly, cold, wet January day. We flew up above the clouds, it was very peaceful and as we went into the sunshine I thought – they’ve probably gone.”

The plane flew over the wreckage on the M1.

“I remember timing it from the motorway to the plane being on the ground and it was about 20 seconds – it was so close,” he said.

Four coaches – one for each of the East Midlands hospitals and another for the people who did not know where their loved ones were – were waiting.

Mr Hynds, Mr Irwin and Mr Darragh boarded the latter.

He said: “There was so much of that day and that week where I was on automatic pilot. I had a very business-like approach to it, and I don’t mean to sound callous.”

They were taken to a nearby hotel where they gave detailed descriptions of his mother and brother. It was about 20 hours after the plane had crashed that they were told they had not survived.

He helped organise the funeral, which was held a week after the crash. But Mr Hynds felt numb. It was only at the funeral, during his mother’s favourite hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, that he finally broke down and wept.

More than 400 people attended the funeral and 80 people stood outside the church unable to get in.

“I was overwhelmed by the vastness of it.

“It was almost like a celebration of their lives. It was a sad occasion but it was a joyous occasion as we remembered their lives – their faith was very important to them, we knew they’d gone on to something better.”

Mr Hynds said in the three months before his mother died he had enjoyed a good relationship with her, after some typically rebellious teenage years.

His brother was his best friend. “He was 20 months younger than me and we had always shared a bedroom.”

He was orphaned by the crash (his father died when he was seven), and he and his sister Sarah, who was then 20, went to live with his stepfather after the crash.

He said: “It had a profound effect on him – he loved my mother very, very much. You don’t go back to normal, you have to find a new level of normal.

“In some ways it [the crash] could be 40, 50, 60 years ago, it is so remote, where as other times it could have easily have occurred last week.

“The detail is so clear and the memories and the feelings and emotions can be so easily recalled.”

This story first appeared in the Nottingham Post in 2009.