The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Northeastern graduate killed in firefighting surveillance plane crash in Australia

Recent+Northeastern+graduate+William+Jennings+poses+for+a+photo+in+his+cap+and+gown.+Jennings+was+killed+in+a+Nov.+4+plane+crash+in+Australia+while+surveilling+fires.+Photo+courtesy+GoFundMe.
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Recent Northeastern graduate William Jennings poses for a photo in his cap and gown. Jennings was killed in a Nov. 4 plane crash in Australia while surveilling fires. Photo courtesy GoFundMe.

Recent Northeastern graduate William Jennings has been identified as one of the three people killed in a Saturday plane crash in Queensland, Australia, 9 News reported Sunday. The two other people aboard the plane, which was surveilling fires, have not been publicly identified as of Monday afternoon

Jennings, a 22-year-old from Long Island, NY, graduated from Northeastern summa cum laude in May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, according to his LinkedIn. A GoFundMe set up for the family to help with funeral expenses said Jennings was in Australia “hoping to bring help and relief to those affected” by the fires and was due to return to the United States in a couple of weeks. 

“I am devastated. My beautiful and amazing nephew who was 22, Died in a plane crash [sic],” Maria Hewitt Farruggia, Jennings’ aunt, wrote on her Facebook page Saturday. “He made a promise to the government for a month and only had 1 1/2 – 2 weeks left. Then he would be returning to the USA. He was the only son of Denise (my sister) and Joe Jennings.” 

In a statement released Saturday, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, or QFES, said it contracted the aircraft to support the Queensland bushfire response and that the aircraft type would be “grounded until advised by authorities.” According to the statement, the QFES will work with the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau to conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash, which is currently unclear. 

“Queensland Fire and Emergency Services offers its deepest condolences to the families of the three people who tragically lost their lives in a plane crash in northern Queensland,” the statement read. 

According to the GoFundMe, Jennings was a hiker and a talented saxophone player, who had played at Carnegie Hall. He was involved in several clubs throughout his time at Northeastern, including the Mechanical Engineering Honor Society, the Entrepreneur’s Club and Intramural Sports, according to his LinkedIn. Jennings’ Instagram account showcased his photography from various travel destinations, and his account’s biography described him as a “traveler,” “storyteller” and “cameraman.”

According to ABC Australia, four major fires have been burning around the outback Queensland city of Mount Isa since late October. It’s believed that the crew onboard the plane was gathering terrain data to aid in the management of the fires, according to local news. 

Joseph Jennings, Jennings’ father, told The Nine Network’s Today Show that Jennings “died doing what he loved” and “felt good about his work.” Denise Jennings, his mother, said the family “needs answers” about their son’s death. 

The GoFundMe, which as of Tuesday morning has raised over $71,000 out of its $$100,000 goal since Saturday, was established to support funeral expenses and help bring Jennings’ remains home. 

“William was a wonderful human being, and it is heartbreaking that he left the world so soon,” the GoFundMe read. “But, we can come together to honor him and give him the farewell he so deeply deserves.”

About the Contributor
Emily Spatz, Campus Editor
Emily Spatz is a journalism and political science combined major with a minor in english and campus editor of The News. She is currently a general assignment reporter co-op at Boston.com has interned at her hometown newspaper covering business, city events and politics. She hopes to continue bringing pertinent, timely and thorough reporting to the Northeastern community. You can follow her @emilymspatz on X.
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