The family of the footballer Emiliano Sala, who died in a plane crash a year ago, have claimed his death was preventable and called for air investigators to speed up their inquiry.
Sala’s family are marking the first anniversary of his death quietly but are keen for a full inquest to take place as quickly as possible.
Their lawyer, Daniel Machover, of Hickman & Rose solicitors, said: “The Sala family will mark the anniversary of the untimely death of Emiliano in private, quiet contemplation of their loss.
“The family’s primary concern remains for the full inquest to take place as soon as possible so that they can finally learn the truth about what happened and ensure that no family has to suffer a similar preventable loss of a loved one.”
Sala, 28, from Argentina, signed for Cardiff City from the French club Nantes for a club record £15m. The light aircraft he was travelling in crashed off Guernsey on 21 January while heading from Nantes to Cardiff after the transfer.
In August the Air Accident Investigations Board (AAIB) said Sala and the pilot, David Ibbotson, were probably exposed to “potentially fatal” levels of carbon monoxide.
Ibbotson’s body was not found. Toxicology tests on Sala’s body found that levels of carboxyhaemoglobin – which is formed in the blood when exposed to carbon monoxide (CO) – were above the point doctors consider to be fatal.
Sala’s family are unhappy that the wreckage of the plane was not recovered, claiming it compromises the investigation. They have said the revelation about the carbon monoxide level raises many questions.
A pre-inquest review is due to take place in March but the family say the only way to get to the truth of what happened is to hold a full inquest as soon as possible.
Machover said: “In the run up to the pre-inquest review hearing on 16 March 2020, it is imperative that the coroner receives by 14 February 2020 (and then promptly shares with the family) the update required by the coroner from all investigating bodies – the police, Civil Aviation Authority and AAIB. The CAA in particular must speed up its work.”
No date has been set for the full inquest.
Cardiff City will hold a ceremony to mark the anniversary of Sala’s death at their stadium on Tuesday night. A minute’s applause will take place before Nantes’ match against Bordeaux on Sunday and a commemorative shirt is being produced.
The AAIB’s chief inspector, Crispin Orr, said: “The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has conducted a thorough investigation looking at a number of elements including operational, technical, organisational and human factors that may have caused or contributed to this accident.
“We have worked closely with many specialist organisations including the aircraft and engine manufacturers and the National Transportation Safety Board in the USA. Our investigation is now at an advanced stage and we intend to publish our final report by the end of March 2020.”
A spokesperson for the UK Civil Aviation Authority said: “The Civil Aviation Authority is one of a number of organisations looking into aspects of this accident. We are unable to comment on ongoing investigations, but will continue to progress our work and will provide a further update as soon as it is possible to do so.”