N.Y. Couple Mourn Death of Only Child in Australian Plane Crash: 'He Was the Joy of Our Lives'

“He could light up any room that he walked into,” said William Jennings' mom

<p>Gofundme</p> William Jennings


William Jennings

A New York couple is in mourning after their only child died in a plane crash in Queensland, Australia, over the weekend.

William Jennings, 22, and two others were killed on Saturday when a firefighting plane they were on that was being used to track bushfires crashed in a remote area of the country, according to The Boston GlobeBoston.com and CBS affiliate WCBS-TV.

The recent Northeastern University mechanical engineering graduate had been in the country since late last month, helping to control the spread of the bushfires by operating a thermal imaging camera he had helped design, his parents, Joe and Denise Jennings, told The Boston Globe.

“He was so excited to go to be able to use the camera that he had worked on, and to be in Australia, doing something to help the Australian people,” his mother told the paper.

Related: Man Rescued After 9 Hours When Small Plane Crashes in the Florida Everglades

The Boston resident had a passion for photography and the outdoors, those who knew him said, and shared his enthusiasm for both via his Instagram account, which featured the handle “Gowithwill.”

On Saturday, a rescue helicopter spotted the Turbo Commander propeller aircraft's wreckage southeast of Mount Isa after workers at a nearby mine saw it crash, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.



“They’d observed a plane go down, and then they observed a plume of smoke,” Superintendent Tom Armitt told reporters, per the newspaper.

Australian aviation authorities reported that the plane plummeted to the ground from about 19,000 feet in about one minute, per WCBS-TV.

Halfway around the world, Joe told Boston.com that he had a feeling that something was wrong when he saw on his own phone tracker that his son’s phone had not moved from a location for many hours, just after Will had texted him that he was boarding a plane.

Related: 2 Brothers Dead, Parents Injured After New York House Fire: 'It’s Just a Terrible Thing'

“Father’s intuition told me something terrible had happened,” he told the outlet. A few hours later, police officers arrived at his home in Dix Hills, Long Island, to break the tragic news.

Now, Denise and Joe are working to bring back their son’s remains and have launched a GoFundMe to help with their efforts. More than $80,000 has been raised as of Wednesday afternoon.

“He could light up any room that he walked into,” his mother told the Globe about her son. “He made friends so easily. He was so kind.” She added, “He was the joy of our lives.”

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.