Rally champion Colin McRae dies with son in helicopter crash A Sad Day for The World Rally Championships
September 19, 2007
THE former rally driving champion Colin McRae was killed and his five year-old son feared dead in a helicopter crash yesterday afternoon. The aircraft came down in Jerviswood, Lanarkshire, half a mile from the family's home and burst into flames just after 4pm.
Jean-Eric Freudiger, McRae's agent, said the 39-year-old driver had been piloting the helicopter himself. Also on board were believed to be his son Johnny, another adult - said by locals to be a school friend of McRae - and another child. McRae's wife Alison and their daughter Hollie, 9, were not on board, friends said.
Strathclyde police said in a statement: "Four people were onboard the helicopter," adding "The bodies were found within the helicopter which is owned by Mr Colin McRae of Jerviswood House, Lanark. It is believed he was onboard the helicopter."
McRae became Britain's first World Rally champion in 1995. He was one of the country's most successful sportsmen, achieving 25 wins in World Rally events and 42 podium places. He was a flamboyant driver, inspiring one the world's best-selling computer rally games.
The helicopter came down within half a mile of McRae's 16th-century home, which has an adjacent helipad. The weather had been overcast, with southwesterly winds gusting to 30 knots and good visibility
Officers with dogs and torches continued to comb the woodland near the crash into the night.
McRae's wife, a childhood sweetheart and his former co-driver, was taken back to the house under police escort shortly after 6pm.
McRae's friend the rally journalist Jeremy Hart, who flew with him several times, described him as a "very good, very measured pilot".
"Colin regularly flew all over the UK and into Europe," said Hart. "He knew the terrain and conditions at Jerviswood very well.
"As a sportsman he was a true hero. As a driver Colin was misunderstood slightly as being reckless but everything you saw with him came from pure raw talent as opposed to being learnt. He was the Michael Schumacher of rally driving.
"It's so ironic that he should die in a helicopter crash when he had competed and had brushed with death so many times as a rally driver."