Falkirk family’s air crash fears

Christopher Whyte
Christopher Whyte

A Falkirk family endured an anxious wait fearing their son could have been a victim of the Nepal air tragedy.

Last Friday a twin- engined plane crashed in the Himalayas on its way to Mount Everest killing all 19 on board, including seven Britons.

Christopher Whyte (23) was due to have taken the same flight a few days earlier.

But as he had made no contact with friends or family concerns grew that his travel plans had been altered and he’d been on the fateful flight.

Eventually, after hearing about the disaster, Christopher called home ... and now there are plans to stage a party for him when he returns to the country.

On Wednesday his father admitted: “He could so easily have been on that flight and obviously we are all hugely thankful that he wasn’t.”

Christopher flew out from Heathrow to Kathmandu on September 23 on the first leg of a journey to trek to the Everest base camp to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

The trip was planned as a tribute to his grandad who was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and died in Strathcarron Hospice early last month.

On the day of the funeral on September 26, Christopher was expected to board a flight from Tribhuvan Airport in the Nepalese capital to Lukla.

His father, Steven (53), from Arnothill Gardens, said: “He was due to fly with the same airline and on the same route as the plane that came down.

However we didn’t know for sure everything had gone to schedule so when we heard the terrible news on Friday morning it was a very anxious time for us all.

“The first we knew something might be wrong was at 7 a.m. on Friday when my wife, Maggie, received a text message from a friend asking ‘Is Chris okay?’

“We turned on the television and saw the terrible news. We immediately phoned the emergency number to the Home Office then had an agonising wait while they confirmed his name was not on the list of passengers for that flight.

“It was a very worrying time for us all. Family and friends from home and abroad who knew Christopher was heading for Everest all called asking ‘please tell us Chris is okay’.

‘‘We were only really able to relax when he called us from Namche later that morning to say he had heard about the crash but he was fine.”

Christopher, a signalling engineer with NetworkRail in Larbert, is due back on October 12 - and that extra special party.