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Plane search crew’s awards

HEROES: Four of the firefighters (from left) Matthew Foster, Warren Hunter, Brian Riley and Cameron Herbert.
HEROES: Four of the firefighters (from left) Matthew Foster, Warren Hunter, Brian Riley and Cameron Herbert.

A TRAUMATIC and dangerous scene awaited Sunshine Coast firefighters when a vintage plane crashed on the side of a ridge in October.

The six firefighters joined police and emergency services trekking through 43km of steep, rugged bushland to reach the crash site, where six people had died, 36km north-west of Gympie.

Yesterday the team members - Merv Bonnell, Kristy Holmes, Matthew Foster, Cameron Herbert, Brian Riley and Warren Hunter - were recognised for their efforts at a ceremony at Maroochydore Fire Station.

Fire Commissioner Lee Johnson awarded the crew with the Commissioner's Commendation Medal for bravery and professionalism witnessing a dangerous and traumatic scene.

"These personnel witnessed the devastation of this incident firsthand, after the missing vintage aircraft was located with no survivors," Commissioner Johnson said.

"The dedication and excellent coordination between many agencies at the scene ensured a thorough investigation could be carried out."

Caboolture pilot Des Porter, his wife Kath and friends Les D'Evlin and his wife Janice, and John and Carol Dawson, died in the crash.

The plane was returning to Caboolture after spending the day raising money for charity by giving joy flights at the Monto aircraft show.

During the search for the plane and subsequent investigation, the six firefighters helped make the scene safe for investigators, securing the aircraft and providing access to the site.

Mr Hunter said it was an honour to receive recognition.

"We don't expect awards for what we do, but we are honoured the organisation does recognise this as firefighters going above and beyond," he said.

Topics:  des porter, plane search, search and rescue, vintage plane crash


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