Sala pilot’s heartbroken family launch GoFundMe page for new search

Sala pilot’s heartbroken family launch GoFundMe page for new search

February 9, 2019

‘We can’t bear the thought of him alone down there’: Heartbroken family of Emiliano Sala’s pilot launch GoFundMe page for new search after Cardiff City star’s body is pulled from wreck

  • Body was recovered from the crash wreckage of a plane that carried footballer
  • Last night, police confirmed that the body was that of the Argentinian player
  • Sala’s family and fellow football stars pay poignant tributes to him online 
  • Pilot David Ibbotson’s body not found and family have started a donation page

The family of David Ibbotson who piloted the doomed aircraft that crashed over the English Channel killing Emiliano Sala are seeking donations to restart the search for his body, after the footballer was pulled from the plane wreckage yesterday.

Ibbotson, who today it was reported may have still had some control over the plane when it crashed down, was not inside the wreckage and experts say it is unlikely he will ever be found. 

A Go Fund Me page has so far raised more than £18,000. A message on the site reads: ‘Please help bring David Ibbotson home and help give him the send off he deserves.

The family of David Ibbotson who piloted the doomed aircraft that crashed over the English Channel killing Emiliano Sala are seeking donations to restart the search for his body, after the footballer was pulled from the plane wreckage yesterday

‘As a family we are relying on the kindness of the good hearted people to help us raise the much needed funds to help us find our beloved Dad, Husband and Son.

‘As a family we are trying to come to terms with the tragedy and the loss of two incredible men.

‘To be told the search has now been called off for the foreseeable future has only made this tragic time more difficult.

‘We can not bare the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest.’

Sala’s body was recovered in a privately-funded search which had been launched after the initial search was called off three days after the men and their plane, which had been travelling from Nantes in France to Cardiff, went missing.

Although Mr Ibbotson, 59, of Crowle, Lincolnshire, has not been located, poor weather conditions meant a ‘difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close’, a spokesman for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said on Wednesday.

The aircraft remains underwater off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel.

The sister of Emiliano Sala posted this picture of the footballer on Instagram last night after it was confirmed his body has been recovered from the wreckage of an air crash at sea. The photo shows him on the pitch at Nantes, the French club he was leaving to join Cardiff City

The devastated sister of footballer Emiliano Sala said his ‘soul will shine forever’ after it was confirmed he died in a plane crash in the English Channel. 

Following the announcement, Sala’s sister Romina posted a picture of him on Instagram, with the poignant message: ‘Your soul in my soul, it will shine forever, illuminating my existence. I love you, Tito.’

The family later released a statement thanking the public for their support at what they described as ‘the most painful time of our lives’.

The statement continued: ‘Seeing the whole world mobilized to support us in our research has been an infinitely precious help. Thanks to you, we are now able to mourn our son, our brother.

‘On this Friday morning, our thoughts go to David Ibbotson and his family, hoping that the authorities will do their best to find him.’

She wrote this message on the social network shortly after the announcement was made

Flowers and tributes have been laid for Emiliano Sala at FC Nantes Stadium in western France

The Sala family and relatives of pilot David Ibbotson had been nervously awaiting news after just one body was pulled from the crashed Piper Malibu plane on Wednesday.

After it was confirmed the body was that of Mr Sala this morning, an expert said he fears Mr Ibbotson’s remains may never be recovered because it was not in the wreckage still at the bottom of the seabed.

Stars of world football posted tributes to Sala online in the wake of the announcement. 

Diego Maradona posted a tribute on Instagram. He told how many had kept a ‘light of hope’ for the footballer, adding: ‘I send a big hug to your family and friends’.

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Fellow Argentine, Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero, added: ‘Terribly sad. Rest in peace, Emiliano. My condolences to his friends and family.’

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil said: ‘No words to describe how sad this is.Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and also to the family of the pilot.’ 

Wayne Rooney added his voice to the many tributes, tweeting a black and white picture of Sala with the message: ‘Rest in peace. Thoughts are with friends and family.’ 

Cardiff released a statement on their website which read: ‘We offer our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the family of Emiliano. He and David will forever remain in our thoughts.’ 


Scores of fellow footballers went online to post their condolences after the announcement

Pilot’s body may never be found, says expert 

Undersea explorer David Mearns said there is only ‘a fairly small chance’ that the pilot’ Dave Ibbotson’s body will ever be recovered causing his family even more heartache.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4s Today prgramme he said: ‘Everyone has to think about David ibbotson’s family now. We hope the family will get the same comfort as Sala’s family. There is a fairly small chance that the body will be found. It is a possibility but remote.’

He spoke out after Dorset Police revealed last night that the unidentified body found among the wreckage was that of the 28-year-old £15million player.

Mr Mearns’ team located the Piper Malibu craft off the coast of Alderney on Sunday. It then emerged that a body could be seen on video footage of the plane 60m below the surface.

Mr Mearns told the programme: ‘We will be relying on the body being found in another location. It i impossible to say if this could happen, I don’t want to eliminate all possibility of hope.’ 

Shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns, who assisted in the second search, said his thoughts were with the family and friends of both Sala and Mr Ibbotson.

He tweeted: ‘Rest in Peace Emiliano. I was glad to provide some small comfort to Romina, Mercedes and the whole Sala family during the past two weeks but my heart goes out to the family and friends of David Ibbotson whose loss is the same.’

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey in the English Channel as poor weather conditions stopped efforts to recover it.

Sala was flying to start his new life in the UK from Nantes in France after his £15million signing to Cardiff FC when the plane went down. 

A coroner’s examination of the body, which was recovered from the seabed, established which of the two men they had found. 

Since the news was announced hertfelt tributes to the late footballer have been paid across social media and at the Stade de la Beaujoire. 

Hours before the news was announced publicly the footballer’s sister Romina posted an image of her brother and their mother Mercedes. 

Emiliano Sala’s sister posted an image of her brother with his mother before the news was given officially by police

An image of Sala was unveiled at FC Nantes as they played AS Saint-Etienne at the Stade de la Beaujoire – in tribute to the player

Missing footballer Emiliano Sala was confirmed dead after his body was brought up from the bottom of the English Channel 

At the Stade de la Beaujoire a huge image of the player was unveiled over the crowd while his former Nantes team mates carried images of him on t-shirts. 

The weather conditions are so bad off Guernsey it is not clear if the wreckage can be brought to the surface – meaning it remains unclear whether not Mr Ibbotson’s body will be returned to dry land. 

An official search was called off after four days after it was deemed unlikely the men could have survived. 

A private search was launched for the plane and the men. Hours after the Ocean Geo  III was launched its sonar radars picked up the plane on a seabed.

Then, robotic submarines were used to assess it and film the inside. Yesterday one body was brought to the surface. 

The world of football paid its respects the Argentinian striker this morning with stars including Gareth Bale, Sergio Aguero and Glen Johnson among those paying tribute 

Yesterday, friends and relatives of the pilot’s wife Nora said she was ‘beside herself’ waiting to hear whether or not he had been found. 

Argentinean President Mauricio Macri described the news as ‘painful’, saying: ‘What painful news! My condolences to Emiliano’s relatives, friends and companions at such a difficult time. We are with you.’ 

Pilot David Ibbotson and his wife, Nora Ibbotson. The frequent flyer went missing with his plane on January 21

Mr Ibbotson’s wife Nora has been desperately waiting for news at her home in Crowle, near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.

A local businesswoman in the tiny close knit village – where a makeshift shrine to the missing part time pilot, gas fitter and father-of-three – has been set up in his memory at the market square – said tonight: ‘We’ve heard that Nora hasn’t yet been told which body had been found. She is distraught with grief not knowing, the waiting is agony for her and her family and our hearts go out to them.’

A relative of the heartbroken family said: ‘What’s happened is awful and all we want is for David’s body to be found so we can lay him to rest properly, as he deserves, and pay our respects. Not knowing where he is and if his body has been found or maybe never will be is the worst thing ever.’

The body was recovered from the wreckage of the plane carrying Cardiff City footballer Emiliano Sala on Wednesday

One body from the wreckage of the plane has been recovered more than 20 miles off the coast of Guernsey

Timeline: How the Sala tragedy unfolded 

January 21, 2019:

The single-turbine engine Piper PA-46 Malibu leaves Nantes at 7.15pm for Cardiff and is flying at an altitude of 5,000ft. At 8.50pm the plane disappears from radar in the English Channel.

January 22:

The French civil aviation authority confirms Argentinian footballer Emiliano Sala, 28, who had just signed for Cardiff City, was on board the light aircraft. Piloting the plane was David Ibbotson, from Crowle, near Scunthorpe.

January 24:

Guernsey’s harbour master Captain David Barker says the chances Sala and Mr Ibbotson have survived is ‘extremely remote’.  

January 26:

It emerges that football agent Willie McKay arranged for the flight to take Sala to Cardiff but he says he had no involvement in selecting the plane or pilot. He also backs calls for the search to continue.

January 27:

Relatives and friends of Sala arrive in Guernsey, having enlisted the help of shipwreck hunting expert David Mearns. 

January 28:

Sala’s family, including his mother Mercedes and sister Romina, take a chartered flight in a plane operated by Guernsey airline Aurigny over the area where the plane disappeared.

January 30:

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) says two seat cushions found washed up earlier in the week near Surtainville on the Cotentin Peninsula are likely to have come from the plane carrying Sala and his pilot.

February 3:

Wreckage of the plane is located in a fresh, privately funded search which was made possible after a fundraising campaign saw more than £260,000 donated.

Feburary 4:

A body is visible in seabed video footage of the wreckage of the plane. The AAIB says the footage was filmed using an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) which was surveying the area after the plane was located.

February 6:

A body seen in the wreckage of the plane is recovered. The AAIB says the body will be taken to Portland to be passed over to the Dorset coroner for examination.

The aircraft remains 67 metres underwater 21 miles off the coast of Guernsey. The AAIB says attempts to recover the aircraft wreckage were unsuccessful and, due to continued poor weather forecast, ‘the difficult decision was taken to bring the overall operation to a close’.

February 7:

The Geo Ocean III search boat returns to dock in Portland, Dorset, carrying the wreckage of the Piper Malibu aircraft. Investigators wait to confirm if the body inside the wreckage is that of the pilot or the Argentinian footballer. 

Sixty-year-old Mr Ibbotson’s wife Nora and former wife Georgina Gymer, who now lives in New Zealand, are understood to have been in contact to unite in grief across the globe. 

The body was brought off ship, Geo Ocean III, on a stretcher and transferred to a private ambulance before being taken to Dorset Police and the local coroner. 

The sea search vessel FPV Morven picked up the wreckage using sonar and an unmanned Air Accident Investigation Branch submarine sent to the sea bed used an HD camera to identify the blue and white aircraft. 

Sala’s girlfriend Berenice Schkair yesterday posted a picture on Instagram of a rose stuck into the sand next to the sea.

Mr Ibbotson’s daughter, sister and nephew were among loved ones paying respects to the 60-year-old gas engineer, part time pilot and devoted family man, earlier this week.

His younger sister Helen Kapatysulias wrote: ‘To David, my gentle brother. I have so many memories of you, mine is of you when you were coming home from school, you used to pick me up and carry me home. I will lock these memories in my heart forever.

‘All I would like is to see your face, smiling, cheekily, again. I know you’re safe wherever you are. I pray that one day I will see you again, my gentle Big Brother.

‘I love you forever and always and will never forget you.’

His daughter penned In loving memory of a dear Dad: ‘Daddio, Words cannot describe how much I am going to miss you. You are the best dad anybody could wish for and I will love you always. I have (word illegible) memories and will pass these on to anybody I meet. All my love Vicki.’  

The official search was called off after four days after the coastguard deemed survival not likely.

Marine scientist Mr Mearns volunteered to help the Sala family for free after initial search and rescue efforts by a number of agencies failed.

Him and his team, working in conjunction with the AAIB, found the remains of the plane within two hours of starting their search.

The families of both men remain intent on getting answers.

It is not yet known why the plane came down.

An experienced pilot chartered by football agent Willie McKay to fly Emiliano Sala drafted in a ‘rusty’ part-time replacement and covered the costs on his credit card causing confusion when the plane vanished, it was revealed.

Mr McKay wanted his usual pilot David Henderson, 60,  to carry the Argentinian striker to Britain but he drafted in David Ibbotson, 59, after asking him: ‘Do you want to spend a weekend in Nantes?’

Mr Ibbotson, a boiler engineer and part-time pilot, told a friend he was ‘a bit rusty’ with the instruments of the 35-year-old aircraft and it did not have the licence to carry paying passengers.

Describing the time period since, Mr McKay, a mega-agent renowned for his contacts in France, told l’Equipe sports newspaper that it has ‘been an absolute nightmare for us.’ 

Messages were left around the base of a tree in Crowle for the pilot after a body was found at the bottom of the Channel

Sala’s mother and sister seen as search for the plane which disappeared over English Channel began on Sunday

Sala’s former girlfriend Berenice Schkair, a French model, posted an image on Instagram of a rose in tribute to the footballer

The Geo Ocean III specialist search vessel off the coast of Alderney in the English Channel. The crew found the plane hours after the search began 

Well-wishers offered the family of Emiliano Sala their support after police confirmed the body pulled from the wreckage of his crashed plane was his.

The footballer’s sister Romina posted a picture of the 28-year-old with their mum Mercedes ahead of the official news.

Fans reacted online by voicing their pain at the news.

Gary Blaney wrote: ‘So sorry your family has received the devastating news you had been dreading. I hope you find some comfort that this tragedy has touched the entire world.’

Louise Phillips added: ‘May you now be able to grieve with Emiliano being found. RIP Emiliano. May you keep playing the game you loved with the angels.’

Caroline Harrison wrote: ‘So sorry for your loss. We have all been touched by this awful tragedy. Sending my prayers to you all.’

Pam Abrahams said in a poignant message to Romina posted on social media: ‘Thinking of you all. Emiliano has touched the hearts of the whole world. Find comfort knowing he was such a special person.

‘Be proud how you fought to find out what happened to your brother. You are an inspiration and he would be proud of you.’ 

Berenice Schkair, described as the footballer’s ex after the plane crash although she later insisted the pair were just good friends getting to know each other, posted a clip of the song Shallow from the film ‘A Star is Born’ on social media after authorities announced they had recovered a body from the Piper Malibu plane Sala was on that crashed near Guernsey on January 21.

The blonde model, who pointed the finger at ‘football mafia’ after the new Cardiff City signing went missing although she later pulled back on her claims, wrote two days ago online: ‘Never give up…justice for Emiliano Sala.’


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