A man suspected of organizing the flight that transported footballer Emiliano Sala, who died in the plane crash in the Channel in 2019, is on trial Monday, October 18, in a court in Cardiff, Wales. David Henderson, 66, is accused of acting in a reckless or negligent manner that could have endangered the plane in which Mr. Sala was traveling.
The small private plane, aboard which the 28-year-old Argentinian player and pilot David Ibbotson were on, crashed in the English Channel on January 21, 2019. The FC Nantes striker was joining the Cardiff City club, where he came from to be transferred for 17 million euros.
The body of the player, whose disappearance had moved the football world, was found in the carcass of the device, more than two weeks after the accident, at a depth of 67 meters. The body of the 59-year-old pilot has not been found.
Speed too high
In its final report published in March 2020, the British Aviation Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) estimated that the pilot lost control of the aircraft, a Piper PA-46 Malibu, during a maneuver performed at too high a speed, ” probably “ intended to avoid bad weather to be able to fly on sight. The plane was launched at a speed of 270 miles per hour (435 km / h) at the time of impact with the water, according to the AAIB, excluding any hope of survival.
Investigators also believe that the pilot, ” probably “ been poisoned with carbon monoxide from the engine exhaust system. Investigators also pointed out that the flight was not carried out under conditions that comply with the rules that apply for commercial flights. The pilot sailed by sight, at night, in difficult weather conditions when he did not have the license to pilot this type of plane or to fly at night, they noted.
The flight was chartered by the British pilot David Henderson, at the request of the intermediary Willie McKay and his son Mark, the agent mandated by Nantes to carry out the transfer of Sala.
“Oh la la, what am I afraid!” “
The Cardiff club had assured to have offered a commercial flight to the player, who had declined. Before taking the small private plane, Emiliano Sala was worried about the condition of the aircraft. “I’m on the plane, it looks like it’s going to fall apart, and I’m off to Cardiff”, Emiliano Sala had said in a voice message sent to relatives through WhatsApp messaging. “Oh la la, what am I afraid!” “, he had confided.
David Henderson had pleaded not guilty to breaches of air navigation law in a previous appearance in October 2020 in Cardiff court. At the end of this hearing, this man from East Yorkshire (northern England) was released on bail pending trial.
Emiliano Sala’s remains were repatriated in February 2019 to Argentina. Parents, friends, emissaries from Nantes, Bordeaux and Cardiff, inhabitants… There were hundreds of them who came to bow, cry, lay a hand on the footballer’s coffin in Progreso, the Argentinian village of 3,000 inhabitants who had seen him to grow.
In France, the tributes had also multiplied after the announcement of the disappearance of the footballer. Vahid Halilhodzic, then coach of FC Nantes, had confided about the sportsman to have “Rarely seen someone so endearing, humble, modest. But in the field, he was a warrior ”.