A US police officer and Lanesboro native has told of the terrifying scenes he witnessed moments after a Boeing 777 aircraft crash-landed at San Francisco International Airport, killing three people.
Val Kirwan described the immediate aftermath of the Asiana Airlines crash on July 6 last as “like a scene from a movie” in an incident that left another 180 people injured.
A number of passengers remain in a critical condition in hospital, something the highly trained anti-terrorist detective is still coming to terms with.
“I was part of a group of cops who walked in a line through the debris looking for body parts and the black box,” said Val. “We walked through the debris a few times and it was like a scene from a movie.”
The former Bord Na Móna fitter turned law enforcement official was actually on holidays when news of the crash filtered through.
His first task was to try and relay as much information as possible to the relatives of those trapped inside the stricken aircraft while at the same time dealing with a bustling press room.
“It was pretty hectic,” recalled Val. “Family members wanted to know if their relatives were injured. Also the airport was shut down so passengers and airlines were also looking for information.”
As events unfolded, Val was assigned the unsavoury job of looking for body parts along with the plane’s all-important black box recorder.
Barely ten days on, the brave police official said the death-toll may have been greater but for the rapid response of emergency personnel.
“Every officer that was working was back the next day at 6 am. No one called in sick or took the day off,” he added.