The parents of a young Dix Hills man who died in a small plane crash in Australia on Saturday continue to receive enormous support from the Long Island community and beyond.
A GoFundMe page raising money for Joseph and Denise Jennings to fly their son William’s body back from Queensland has collected more than $66,000 in donations in just two days.
A mechanical engineer, 22-year-old William Jennings was helping to map bushfires in Queensland when the plane he was flying in went down in the McKinlay area of the state about 2:30 p.m. local time. Two other people died in the crash.
A recent Northeastern University graduate, Jennings had a promising future in work and life, family and friends said, referring to him as “a light” with a witty sense of humor and infectious laugh.
Joseph Jennings is disabled and his wife Denise works as an aide for BOCES, and they are unable to independently come up with the funds necessary to pay for the repatriation of their son’s body. Repatriation typically involves coordination with funeral homes, transportation services, and relevant authorities to that the deceased individual is safely and respectfully transported to their final resting place.
“Any donation would go a long way in lifting the enormous burden off their shoulders,” the GoFundMe post reads. “We’re hoping to raise enough funds to cover William’s funeral costs and the costs to bring his remains home from Australia. Every little bit counts and will have an immense impact on supporting [Jennings’] grieving family.”
Employed by the Australian aerial firefighting business AGAIR, Jennings was taking photos of bush fires in effort to help bring relief to those affected by the blazes.
“His heart was always focused on making a positive impact on the world, no matter how big or small,” it says in the GoFundMe post. “We know that his legacy will continue to inspire others to make an impact.”
Jennings lived a very active life. He was an avid hiker and an adventurous lover of nature, friends said. He was also a talented musician, performing on the saxophone at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed condolences on X (formerly called Twitter) to the crash victims’ families.
“Terribly sad that three brave souls working to help their fellow Australians have lost their lives in Queensland,” said Albanese, who was in China at the time of the crash, marking the first visit of an Australian prime minister to China since 2016.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has started an investigation in the plane crash and expects to release a preliminary report in six to eight weeks, according to reports.
Top and above photos: GoFundMe