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"Please help bring him home"

Sunday 10 February 2019

"Please help bring him home"


The daughter of pilot David Ibbotson, who disappeared as he flew footballer Emiliano Sala over the Channel, has raised over £70,000 within a day of launching a campaign to "bring him home".

Danielle Ibbotson set up the GoFundMe page yesterday, with a target of generating £300,000 to help search for and recover his body, giving him the "send-off he deserves".

"We can not bare the thought of him being alone, we need him home so that we are able to lay him to rest," she wrote on the crowdfunding page.

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Pictured: Dave Ibbotson, whose family is crowdfunding to continue the search for him.

Mr Ibbotson was last seen almost three weeks ago when he piloted a private plane chartered to take footballer Emiliano Sala from Nantes in France to Cardiff.

The Argentine striker had just signed a £15million contract to join the premier league club, but had wanted to briefly return to France to say goodbye to his club mates and to make arrangements for his dog to later join him in Wales.

Instead, the trip ended in tragedy when the Piper Malibu which Mr Ibbotson was flying disappeared as it flew past the Channel Islands. A search and rescue mission, mainly manned by volunteers, was called off after three days. A crowdfunding campaign to relaunch the search quickly raised more than £300,000 and saw shipwreck expert David Mearns recruited to find the plane.

In the meantime, the Air Accident Investigation Branch had started its enquiries and within a week both Mr Mearns, using a vessel with sonar equipment, and the AAIB were checking a small zone of just 2 nautical miles squared northwest of Alderney. Within hours they had found the plane, and it was later confirmed that a body was still on board.

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Pictured: Emiliano Sala's body was still on board the stricken plane when it was found at the bottom of the Channel. 

The AAIB was able to recover the body - which was later confirmed by Dorset Police to be Sala - but said bad weather had hampered efforts to also bring up the plane and the search was called off with an interim report into the incident due within weeks.

With the news the search was over, and that only Mr Sala's body had been found, questions were raised over whether further efforts would be made to locate Mr Ibbotson's body. While David Mearns has been quoted as saying he would help the Ibbotson family recover their lost loved one, there has been no indication another search is about to start yet.

In the meantime, members of the public have rallied to support Mr Ibbotson's family in fundraising.

Mr Ibbotson's daughter wrote that as a family they are relying on the kindness of good hearted people to help them find their "beloved Dad, Husband and Son".

Paying tribute to both her father and Sala, Ms Ibbotson wrote on her crowdfunding page: "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... Any donations would be very much appreciated. To ensure a search is done so we are able to give David the correct send off he deserves and to support the family."

Among those supporting the campaign to relaunch the search, one commenter wrote: "Everyone should have the chance to say goodbye."

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Pictured: A number of people have backed the Go Fund Me campaign to relaunch the search to find David Ibbotson. 

Another said: "It's easy to forget there were two souls that were lost in the Channel that evening. No doubt Dave done his best to keep Sala and himself alive, I hope you get the opportunity to bring him home and put him to rest."

Since Sala's body was recovered, international tributes have been paid to the star footballer, with his former team, Nantes FC, leading the way yesterday.

In honour of the Argentine striker they said "conquered the hearts" of the French team's supporters early on, the team announced that they would be retiring his shirt number - 9 - from further use.

Pictured top: A GoFundMe Campaign has been launched by David Ibbotson's daughter to relaunch the search to find him. 

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