British CEO killed in plane crash in Australia

Officials said Monday that Richard Cousins, the CEO of Compass Group, a Global Fortune 500 catering company based in Britain, was among six people killed in a charted seaplane crash north of Sydney.

Emergency services respond to the scene of a fatal seaplane crash in Australia on Sunday. Photo by Perry Duffin/EPA-EFE
Emergency services respond to the scene of a fatal seaplane crash in Australia on Sunday. Photo by Perry Duffin/EPA-EFE

Cousins, 58, was onboard the plane with sons William, 25, and Edward, 23, his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, and her 11-year-old daughter, Heather. Gareth Morgan, 44, was the pilot.

Cousins, who lost his first wife to cancer in 2015, planned to marry Bowden in July.

The plane plunged into Hawkesbury River near Jerusalem Bay shortly after 3 p.m. Sunday, New South Wales police said in a statement.

The Australian reported the de Havilland Beaver float plane took off in “perfect” conditions but encountered problems and fell into the river. Police divers recovered all six bodies from the wreckage.

Cousins had run Compass since 2006 and was due to step down as CEO in March and retire entirely in September.

Dominic Blakemore, 48, the company’s chief operating officer for Europe, previously was appointed as Cousins’ replacement and took over the company immediately.

“Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies,” Paul Walsh, chairman of the catering company, said in a statement. “We are deeply shocked and saddened.”

Compass specializes in catering for schools, prisons and multinational companies in roughly 50 countries, including the United States. The company, which employs 550,000 people, reported annual revenue of $31 billion in the fiscal year that ended in September.

Harvard Business Review named Cousins the world’s 11th best performing CEO in 2017.

Sydney Seaplanes charters planes for a 20-minute flight from Sydney to dine at an exclusive restaurant on the river. The company said it has suspended operations until further notice.

By Allen Cone