The last day of 2017 ended in tragedy for 6 people and their families. On December 31, the Compass Group PLC Chief Executive Officer and five others, including the pilot, died in a seaplane crash.
According to the news report by Yahoo! Finance, Richard Cousins, the CEO of the world’s largest catering company, was with four members of his family in the seaplane when it crashed into a Sydney river on New Year’s Eve.
According to New South Wales Police’s Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchins, Richard Cousins, aged 58, was accompanied by Emma Bowden (aged 48), Heather Bowden (aged 11), Edward Cousins (aged 23) and William Cousins (aged 25). The Bowdens were identified as his fiancé and her daughter, and the two young men were identified as his sons. The pilot, Gareth Morgan, aged 44, also died in the crash.
Bloomberg gives a detailed report about the tragedy. It seems the family had flown to an exclusive waterfront restaurant at Jerusalem Bay from Sydney for lunch. They were on their way back when the tragedy took place.
The plane crashed into the Hawkesbury River in Cowan about 30 kilometers or 19 miles from Sydney. Eyewitness said the plane sank rapidly and even though they rushed to the scene to try and help the passengers, the water was cloudy due to the aviation fuel that had spread after the crash. The water was also very deep and the seaplane is now 13 meters under water.
In a statement on Wednesday, the New South Wales Police revealed that it would commence operations to pull out the aircraft from the bottom of the river to ascertain why the crash took place. However, they said it could even take up to a year to find out what caused the plane to crash.
The seaplane was a part of the fleet of aircraft run by Sydney Seaplanes. The company had no previous history of aircraft accidents. However, all seaplane flights have been cancelled till further notice.
The New South Wales police said that a preliminary report about the crash would be released in about a month from now. According to the Fortune new report, the executive director of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Nat Nagy stated that the authorities were going to pursue several lines of investigation into the tragedy.
This would also include an investigation into the aircraft’s avionics and maintenance records as well as the pilot’s experience and background.
Cousins had led Compass for the past 11 years, and was credited for having turned the once failing business around, making it one of the FTSE 100’s best performing companies. In fact, Cousins himself was named one of the world’s best performing Chief Executives by Harvard Business Review. Cousins had announced in September of 2017 that he would retire on March 31, 2018. Dominic Blakemore, the then Chief Operating Officer for Compass’ European division, was named Cousins’ successor. Blakemore was due to take over from Richard Cousins from April 1 onwards.
Compass Group announced the deaths of Cousins and his family the next day and also announced the appointment of the company’s new CEO, Dominic Blakemore, who would take over with immediate effect.
Compass Chairman, Paul Walsh, extended his sympathies to the entire family. He also said that it had been a great privilege to work with and personally know Cousins. He said that Richard Cousins was a great humanitarian and had a no-nonsense approach to his work, which is what transformed Compass into the world’s largest catering company.
The company’s stocks opened lower on the back of this news.