Mount Gimie, located east of Soufriere, is the highest point on the island, rising to 950 meters (3,117 feet). Part of a lush nature reserve, few people know, or even remember, that it was the site of a tragic plane crash some 45 years ago.
Around 7.30 pm on Monday 29th October, 1973 a Sun Island Air Service twin engine islander aircraft took off from Vigie Airport for Hewanorra Airport, a fifteen minute flight away. On board, in addition to pilot Surage, were Dutch Engineer Dalman from Trinidad and his two sons aged nine and eleven. By 8.30 pm, when Surage had not yet requested landing clearance, it became clear that something
At first light on Tuesday morning an air and sea search was conducted using a spray plane, a police boat and other small craft. Julio Valdez, a Saint Lucia Banana Growers Association pilot, was the first to spot the wreckage from the air, on the south-eastern spur of Mount Gimie, at an elevation of approximately 600 meters (2,000 feet).
The terrain proved to be much too steep and dangerous to accommodate any rescue attempt from the air. A ground party, including a doctor, set out on foot from Migny, near Fond St. Jacques, but it proved impossible to reach the crash site before nightfall and the rescue party had to spend an uncomfortable night in the forest.
On Wednesday the four bodies were extracted from the mangled cabin of the plane. The rescuers brought back the bodies of the two youths. The bodies of the two adults, 150 lbs Surage and 250 lbs Dalman, were placed in body bags and laid on the only bit of non-precipitous ground near the wrecked aircraft.
On Thursday a rescue party from Trinidad, arranged at the family’s expense, removed the body of Dalman. On Friday a delegation approached John Compton, the island’s premier, accusing the government of recovering the bodies of the white passengers while leaving the body of the black pilot to rot on the mountain. A recovery team comprising the premier, Robert Devaux, about seven policemen and fifteen prison inmates eventually recovered the body of the pilot from the crash site.
Based on text provided by IETV: 32 Flow, 102 Karib Cable, from an article compiled by Robert Devaux.