Deep sea divers will next week begin searching for the body of missing pilot David Ibbotson, after a crowdfunding campaign secured nearly a quarter of a million in donations, it has been confirmed.
The search will be coordinated by David Mearns (pictured, right), who helped footballer Emiliano Sala family locate the missing Piper Malibu he and Mr Ibbotson had been travelling in.
Helicopter searches of the area will also be conducted, and are expected to start even earlier, according to an update from Mr Ibbotson’s daughter, Danielle.
Mr Ibbotson disappeared as he flew footballer Emiliano Sala over the Channel from Nantes to his new club Cardiff FC in late January.
Pictured: Tributes were paid to Sala at a vigil in his hometown after his body was recovered.
While the Argentine striker's body was recovered from the plane wreck discovered near Alderney, and laid to rest in a ceremony in his hometown on Friday, Mr Ibbotson’s location remains unknown.
Danielle Ibbotson set up a GoFundMe page last week, with a target of generating £300,000 to help search for and recover his body, giving him the "send-off he deserves".
Having received significant donations from footballers including Kylian Mbappé, Kalibou Koulibali and İlkay Gündoğan, as well as broadcaster Gary Lineker, the total has now hit over £247,000.
Pictured: A Piper Malibu, the type of aircraft the pair had been flying in.
In an update on behalf of the Ibbotson family this morning, Ms Ibbotson told the campaign’s supporters:
“Thank you all so much for your support. we are looking to have the Deep Divers start hopefully beginning of next week. We are just waiting on confirmation of dates to update you all.
“Also we are organising the helicopter searches of the coastal areas just will be starting a lot sooner than the Deep Dive. You have all been so amazing and thank you for all your kind messages and donations.”
I have been assisting the family of pilot David Ibbotson to hopefully locate his body. This search is technically very different to the underwater search for the Piper Malibu aircraft. It is dependent on good weather, neap tides and flight permits. The family needs space to plan.— David Mearns (@davidlmearns) February 19, 2019
The news comes just days ahead of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) releasing their interim report on the accident.
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