8 Jan 2010

PNG crash pilot still sedated in Australian hospital

1:52 pm on 8 January 2010

The pilot whose light plane crashed in Papua New Guinea a week ago remains sedated in an Australian intensive care unit recovering from skin grafts to burns and back surgery.

All six passengers died in the accident and pilot Richard Leahy's son Nicholas says while his father is still struggling for his life and faces at least six months in hospital, he has stepped in to help.

He says recent criticism of Kiunga Aviation from the governor of Morobe province, Luther Wenge, has prompted a series of meetings with families of those killed in the crash.

He says relatives of the governor were among the victims.

"Our main priority is the families of the victims. Or my priority I should say on behalf of my father and behalf of Kiunga Aviation. Luther Wenge's brother, Kennedy Wenge, announced in the meeting yesterday, that we had with the families of the victims, that he hoped that my father returned well enough and continued flying in the same area."

Nicholas Leahy says because of the high profile Kokoda plane crash earlier in the year, extra funding for this investigation of the Cessna accident is available.

He says the bodies of the crash victims are still with the coroner and he hopes they will be returned to their families for burial soon.