Bereaved family of late Peter Ato seeks legal advice
Posted on July 24, 2012, Tuesday
KUCHING: Family members of the late Peter Ato, one of the three passengers who perished in a helicopter crash at the mouth of Sungai Teriso near Sebuyau last Friday, are seeking legal advice over the tragedy as they suspect that there were elements of negligence involved in the mishap.
Peter’s uncle Tunek Dingen, 59, said there were three major issues they were not very satisfied with and which they demand the parties concerned to answer.
Tunek, a retired search and rescue (SAR) personnel attached with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) for 22 years, said being a qualified SAR personnel, he felt that several safety aspects had not been observed by the parties.
“The first issue we want to ask is why there was no life jacket in the aircraft. I don’t know the exact weight but I assume that it will be less than half a kilo each and therefore should not cause weight burden to the aircraft,” he said.
He said there was every possibility that all or at least one of the passengers would survive if only the helicopter was equipped with adequate life saving equipment.
He told reporters this when met at Peter’s funeral at Kampung Bisira Rayang, Padawan Link Road yesterday.
“This is the issue we are looking into now, apart from wanting to know why the captain had abandoned the inexperienced passengers all by themselves.
“The captain said he swam to seek help but as a qualified SAR crew while serving in the RMAF pilots should not leave passengers like that alone.
“Leaving them alone is tantamount to manslaughter. We cannot deny that it is an act of manslaughter either directly or indirectly,” he claimed.
Tunek, who claimed to have brought up Peter during his childhood, also alleged that there had been some incompetence on the part of the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in handling the situation if it had received any distress signal from the helicopter.
“Even if the helicopter could not make a distress call to the DCA control tower, I believe other passing aircrafts could have picked up the distress signal from the aircraft and informed the control tower.
“So even if they were uncertain of the aircraft having problem they can always check from the data and contact who ever were supposed to be flying at that time,” he said.
He added that DCA should be made answerable as they should dispatch all aircrafts, whether fixed wings or helicopters, that were available at that particular time to participate in the search and rescue operation.
“If only the three points were not left out we believe that loss of lives during this particular accident could have been avoided. In view of this, we are going to seek legal advice.
“It is not so much on what had already happened but we want to use it as a lesson for everyone so that similar tragedies will not happen again,” said Tunek.