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‘The wing came to fall right in my room’

In the space of less than three years, Maria de Fátima Rosa lost her home, lost her job, lost sleep, lost photographs of her marriage and children. “There was nothing left to tell the story.” He lives in an apartment borrowed by the Cascais City Hall in the 25 de Abril district (Abóboda), surrounded by objects offered by neighbors and friends. “All you see here at home, from glass to sheet, was the people who knew us who gave it to us. They would bring me things, because they knew that I would arrange, take care of, old I would do new ».

Jobless – “I was left with no head to work” – he is mainly concerned with looking after the four grandchildren, but most of his time is spent in legal proceedings and meetings with the lawyer. She has regular appointments with the psychologist and psychiatrist but nevertheless regains her tranquility of mind. «The nights have not been easy. Soothing, soothing … I start sleeping there from six in the morning. The rest of the night just go get some crap.

At 59, Maria de Fátima guarantees that she lost even her joy. “These are the worst years of my life.” The campervan, which has taken the family on so many tours around the country, is stopped. «We never did those little rounds again. In the old days I left everything prepared on Thursday and on Friday, as soon as I left work, we left in the campervan. My kids would ask, ‘Where are you going?’ And I said, “I don’t know.” We left without a fixed destination and stopped where we felt like. I rappelled, I did everything. Now even from my own shadow I am afraid ».

In April 2017, Fatima Rosa and her family took advantage of Good Friday to make a long weekend in the camper. On Monday, the 17th, they were back in Tires. “We had come from Vila Nova de Mil Fontes”, he recalls. “There were still some chickens from those seasoned little barbecue people and I was going to my son’s workshop to bake the chickens for us to eat there.”

But before lunch time something happened that altered his plans. «I better have run away and not seen. This way it never ends. You are in the greatest silence and that is coming soon.

‘It’s commonplace for them to do these stunts’

In the late morning of April 17, the day after Easter Sunday, a small twin-engine plane took off from the Tires airfield. At the helm of the Piper PA-31T was Frenchman Jean Plé, director of the prosthetic firm Symbios Orthopedics, which specializes in knee implants. On board were sports surgeon Jean-Pierre Franceschi, his wife and a friend.

The flight was to Marseille, where the Symbios Knee Surgery Reference Center is run by Franceschi. But early on takeoff a left engine failure led to the aircraft starting to lose altitude. The lack of pilot experience may have led to a failure that would prove fatal. The plane has lost control.
Maria de Fátima Rosa was at that time on the terrace watering the flowers and taking care of her grandson Martim, one and a half years old. Born and raised in Tires, she herself helped build the house when she was 16. Later, she says, ‘when I made that terrace I said to my children,’ We’ll all stay here one day. ‘ But I thought, “Never mind.” There are houses so big, tall, in front of me … ».

Due to the proximity of the airfield, I was used to hearing the planes and watching them do pirouettes and other unusual maneuvers. “It’s commonplace for us to do these stunts.” But then came a moment when she realized something was not right. «I thought that was too much. When I saw the wing lift, come forward and soar … No. This is not trivial anymore. What do I do?”. The first thing that occurred to him was that he had to secure his grandson. “We were in that little bit where we played with the boy, and he was running around the table. And I say, ‘Martim, walk with your grandmother’ – but always with your eye on the plane. I go, push the table – I don’t even know how I didn’t hurt him – and he stands there quietly. ‘I’ll catch you now’. As soon as I caught him, I was already with him on my lap, I saw. When I stopped hearing the other engine running, I said, ‘No, you’re really going to crash’. He comes slowly, fits in there, flaps one wing on my porch railing, and the other wing on Lidl’s fans. It didn’t break a brick, nothing. He fit in and knew he was going to die there. How are you so sure? “The pilot saw me and I saw him,” he says. “By the way, I described you all and when they showed me the photograph I recognized him right away.”

Having traveled only 700 meters from the end of the airfield runway, Piper brushed his wing in the Lidl de Tires discharge park. The noise was so loud that inside the supermarket some thought there was an earthquake.

‘A plane crashed at my house!’

According to the preliminary report of the Aircraft and Railway Accident Prevention and Investigation Bureau (GPIAAF), ‘on impact, the aircraft exploded and caught fire, inflicting a partial fire on a lorry on site’.

At home, with her grandson on her lap, Fatima Rosa watched everything. The plane will not have caught fire immediately. «It was not fire, it was heat. The heat was so great … Which is not my surprise when I see that the wing is right in my room. Mesmo You really came down here ’. That’s when I ran away. I had to cross two bedrooms, my kitchen, the living room, the entrance hall and down the stairs. As I was at the bottom of the stairs I heard an explosion. My mother, who was in a sewing room, did not realize. “Daughter, what happened?” ‘Mom, let’s go. A plane crashed at my house, this is going to explode! ‘ Always with her grandson on her lap, she dragged her mother out and asked for help «to the little bastards who were there [dentro do avião]».

At the time he heard shouts – only later did he realize that they said ‘help’, help. «I even told my son that they were ladies who went inside. Then it turned out to be two couples. And they screamed a lot. It was a horrible thing. But as soon as I just called for help, I heard the first explosion and said, ‘There’s nothing more to do,’ he recalls.

In addition to Piper’s four passengers, the crash of the plane caused a fifth deadly casualty to land: a driver unloading a lorry. She was on her last day at work – she was going to change jobs – and she had even thought of doing a different round, starting with the Rebel and only then going to Tires. With him was a helper who could no longer help him.

‘From fork to plate, melted everything’

Maria de Fatima was taken to an ambulance. “They got me into the ambulance, I went to the hospital, but soon I came back.”

However, despite the large apparatus, the family house was burning, with all the belongings inside. «Why is my house like this and does not carry water?», Asked the owner. He heard the reply from the Prime Minister’s mouth, who had rushed to the scene: ‘It can’t be, daughter. The plane carries fuel on the wings. It was full. If we send water, it will blow everything. ‘

But the family did not conform. “My son tried to run away three times, he knew where we had the gold and the money. Then they even gave him a suit to try to go there, but couldn’t save anything. It was just black smoke. From the double-glazed windows you can see only a little molten glass. It melted everything from fork to plate to mattress to bed, everything you can imagine. It burned everything from the edge of the bathroom to the edge of the room. Fatima Rosa saw all her possessions leave the house “in bags to go to the trash.” Grandson Martim was not unscathed either. «He was always with me on his lap. Remember everything. A boy who had already left his diapers was already speaking so well, and returned to it all. So much so that we get close and he asks: ‘Grandma, are you going to the broken house? Pumbaa! Airplane'”.

‘Looks like they’re going to get candy

“I have never seen so much black stuff in the air, there were bits of the plane that fell into my neighbor’s backyard and others were causing infiltration on my brother’s roof,” Fatima Rosa describes.

About two years after the accident, Lidl opened new, more modern facilities just a few meters from the affected supermarket. But Fatima Rosa continues with her burned house. I heard about the only offer from the insurer responsible, which offered her compensation of about 160,000 euros through television (and later by the lawyer). «160,000 euros for the house, with everything in it? And what did we go through? Nothing pays for it. Even if it was double ». The case is now in court awaiting settlement.

Fatima Rosa’s mother is still in the house where she always lived, next to her daughter’s. «You see the water dripping. There are people for everything that is local ». The House proposed to move her to a home, but declined.

Maria de Fatima went to the house of a son. But not for long. «He had to sell the floor because we had nothing left. As he is a carpenter, he put the house as people liked, the furniture all modern. Sold out in an instant. We have ruled ourselves with that money. And they all settled in the ground-floor apartment in the 25th of April neighborhood provided by the House. «I didn’t even know this neighborhood existed. Today I see the world here so close to me. About to go to the window, open the shutter and have a cop with the machine gun. ‘Close, close’. It was surrounding the neighborhood because this is just watching them pass – discreetly. You see that corruption … looks like they’re going to get candy. I can’t open a window, ”she laments.

He wants to rebuild Tires’ house, but he doesn’t want to move there. “Only if they give me very little, I have no other chance.” Even away from the site, it is difficult to hide the images of the accident. «It seems that something was here … I hear noises and it comes to mind. I’m in the most silence and that is coming soon. I think this will never end, ”he predicts. Inwardly, it is as if the plane crashes day after day.

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