Parents of US man William Joseph Jennings killed in plane crash fighting QLD fires demand answers over death

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The heartbroken parents of a young American ‘adventurer’ and musician, killed in a horrific accident during the trip of a lifetime to Australia, have demanded answers as they try to find out what happened to their only son.

William Joseph Jennings, a mechanical engineer from New York, was in Australia to assist with firefighting when the research plane he was in crashed in the remote outback of Queensland.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Parents of an American man killed in a plane crash during firefighting efforts demand answers.

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“He was our only son. He was the light of our lives,” his mother Denise Jennings told 7NEWS.

The 22-year-old had graduated with honors from Northeastern University in Boston six months ago and had been in Australia for less than three weeks before the Mount Isa crash claimed his life.

Hoping to provide relief and relief to those affected, Jennings’ family said his “heart has always been focused on making a positive impact on the world, no matter how big or small.”

“He had his whole life ahead of him. He had so many plans for the future,” Denise said.

During her studies, Jennings had interned at a company that made the cameras that helped firefighters monitor fires from the air, and had taken a job in Australia to help map current wildfires.

William Jennings was in Australia to help fight forest fires. Credit: Facebook
William Jennings died in a plane crash in the remote Queensland outback.
William Jennings died in a plane crash in the remote Queensland outback. Credit: Facebook

“William was an adventurer, I knew if he had the opportunity to go to Australia he would take it,” said his father Joe.

“I didn’t have a good feeling about it.”

Queensland emergency services were contacted by a member of the public about a plane crash near a mining site about 40km northwest of McKinlay at 2.30pm on Saturday.

Flight data shows the plane took off from Toowoomba just before 11am and was due to land at Mount Isa at about 3pm when it disappeared from radar between Cloncurry and Mount Isa.

Police confirmed that all three people aboard the light aircraft died in the crash, including Jennings.

His distressed parents said they had received little to no information since hearing about the crash and were desperate for answers.

“The only information comes from watching the Australian news,” his father said.

William Jennings had graduated with honors from one of Boston's top universities six months earlier.
William Jennings had graduated with honors from one of Boston’s top universities six months earlier. Credit: Facebook

“Three police officers came to our house in the morning and told us that there had been an aviation accident and that William had been killed.

“From the news we saw, the plane just fell out of the sky.

“We want answers. Why would something like that happen?”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan released a statement on Saturday expressing their condolences and saying the three deaths played a crucial role in saving lives and protecting property.

“I am terribly saddened by what has happened,” Palaszczuk said.

“The crew on board this aircraft have done everything they can to protect the people of Queensland.

“I extend my sincere condolences to the many people affected by this shocking incident.”

Jennings’ family and friends are raising money to bring his remains home so he can be buried.

“He was so kind and loving, he had the most beautiful smile,” his mother said.

“We want everyone to know what an exceptional person he was.”

Queensland Police and the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau said they continued to investigate the accident.

Hundreds of people gathered to hold a vigil for those who lost their lives after a car crashed into a pub’s beer garden this weekend.

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