Saturday 29 April 2017

Coast Guard's 'we will not leave you' vow to two missing crew members

Mourners at the funeral of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Picture: David Conachy
Mourners at the funeral of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick Picture: David Conachy

Robin Schiller

The Irish Coast Guard has issued an emotional statement a month on from losing four of its colleagues in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash, saying: "We will not leave you. Help is on the way".

Yesterday marked the month anniversary of the Irish Coast Guard helicopter crashing off the Mayo coast.

Two of the crew - Capt Dara Fitzpatrick (45) and Capt Mark Duffy (51) have since been recovered.

Their two colleagues, winch operator Ciarán Smith (38) and winchman Paul Ormsby (53) are still missing.

Yesterday, the Irish Coast Guard issued an emotional statement, saying: "We will not leave you. Help is on the way".

In a statement, the Irish Coast Guard said that the rescue community had lost "six of its very finest" in the last six months.

This includes the Rescue 116 crew, Catriona Lucas and chief crewman Daithí Ó Cearbhalláin, who lost his life to illness on March 8.

"(They were) people that lived their lives day to day, ready to come to the aid of strangers at a moment's notice, and put themselves in harm's way, so others may live," the statement said.

"The search continues for missing crewmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith.

"We will not leave you. You are not alone. Help is on its way.

"Hold hope," the touching statement read.

Niamh Fitzpatrick, the sister of tragic Commander Dara, said that her family were "devastated and distressed" for all of the families involved, adding that they did not wish to comment on the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) report.

The families of the four crew members were briefed by investigators on the preliminary report before it was released publicly.

An interim review into the tragic crash detailed the last words spoken by the Rescue 116 crew before they collided with Black Rock island.

The R116 crew - who were dispatched from their Dublin base to Co Mayo to help with a rescue operation - appeared to know what was happening in the final seconds before impact.

The transcript of the cockpit voice recorder shows that co-pilot Mark Duffy said "We're gone" seconds before the Sikorsky S-92 aircraft collided with Black Rock island.

The last communication from the aircraft came at 12.46am, with Blacksod lighthouse advising it had no communication with Rescue 116 at 1.08am.

A Mayday alert was issued by the Malin broadcast minutes later, and an extensive search-and-rescue operation was launched.

Searches are still continuing for the missing crew members, but a large search effort involving over 100 vessels failed to locate the two men last weekend.

Irish Independent

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