News Irish News

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Rescue 116 wreckage is discovered at lighthouse after teams are airlifted onto island for search

The crew of Rescue 116; (left to right) Paul Ormsby, Mark Duffy, Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciaran Smith,
The crew of Rescue 116; (left to right) Paul Ormsby, Mark Duffy, Dara Fitzpatrick and Ciaran Smith,
Black Rock lighthouse is seen from Blacksod Bay yesterday Picture: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
xxx
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Search vessels look for wreckage from Rescue 116
A Coast Guard helicopter arrives in Blacksod to refuel as the search continues
The probe into the loss of Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter is currently centring on whether 'electrical failure' on the helicopter caused the crash. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Debris from the missing Rescue 116 helicopter is brought back to Blacksod pier from another Coast Guard Helicopter. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Family members gather at Blacksod Pier. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Minister Shane Ross visits Blacksod Pier alongside, from left, Cllr Gerry Coyle, Garda Supt Tony Healy from Belmullet, Gerard O’Flynn, Operations Manager Irish Coast Guard, and Kevin Boxer Moran TD. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The LE Roisin pictured on its search for missing Coast Guard Crew members at Blacksod Bay. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Heavy seas at Blacksod Bay which hampered search efforts for the missing crewmen of THe Coast Guard Helicopter today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Heavy seas at Blacksod Bay which hampered search efforts for the missing crewmen of THe Coast Guard Helicopter today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
A sonar is placed over the side of a boat in the water to track the transponder during the search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
A sonar is placed in the water to track the transponder during the search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
The search and rescue at first light at Blacksod Pier after the Rescue 116 helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 15th March 2017
An RNLI Lifeboat pictured on its search for missing Coast Guard Crew members at Blacksod Bay. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Minister Shane Ross speaks to the media at the scene on Blacksod Pier. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Robin Schiller in Blacksod, Co Mayo

Investigators have found wreckage from Rescue 116 at Black Rock lighthouse but insist there is no evidence of "impact marks" at the site.

Members of the Air Accident Investigation Unit and their UK colleagues were airlifted onto the island to carry out searches in difficult conditions yesterday.

Investigators trawled the island of Black Rock, located 12km off the west coast, near where the helicopter's 'black box' signal was located.

While pieces of wreckage were discovered at the site, Chief Inspector of unit Jurgen Whyte insisted last night there was no sign of any collision on the lighthouse or in the area surrounding it.

Mr Whyte told RTÉ's Primetime that there has been "no impact marks of significance" discovered and "no marks on the lighthouse".

He said that investigators are eager to get to the main wreckage of the helicopter as that will provide more concrete answers to what happened to Rescue 116.

Divers are now expected to wait until Sunday to carry out a search for the wreckage of Rescue 116 and its three missing crew members.

Meanwhile, funeral details were announced for Captain Dara Fitzpatrick (45), who was recovered from the sea but later pronounced dead.

(From the top left, clockwise) Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, winchman Ciaran Smith and winchman Paul Ormsby. Photo: Irish Coast Guard/PA Wire
(From the top left, clockwise) Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, winchman Ciaran Smith and winchman Paul Ormsby. Photo: Irish Coast Guard/PA Wire

Pilot Mark Duffy and winchmen Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby have still not been located after their helicopter Rescue 116 lost communication shortly before 1am on Tuesday.

Mark Duffy's wife Hermione used Facebook to say she has been "overwhelmed by the love and compassion expressed".

She wrote: "Thank you for the huge outpouring for my beloved Mark, my hero, my soulmate, my right hand but we are both ciotogs, my babies daddy.

"Our hero. I am overwhelmed by the love and compassion being expressed.

Blacksod (marked). Picture: Google maps
Blacksod (marked). Picture: Google maps

"Truly thank you, our children will be so comforted by everything."

A relative of Mark Duffy also paid tribute to the heroic Coast Guard pilot.

The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
A Coast Guard Helicopter is refulled at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The Coast Guard Helicopter Crew at Blacksod Lighthouse this evening. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
A Coast Guard Helicopter lands at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
A Coast Guard Pilot pictured with a Helicopter at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Gerard O'Flynn, Coast Guard, pictured at Blacksod Lighthouse. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Coastguard Personnel pictured loading helicopter debris into a jeep at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The Garda Water Unit arriving at Blacksod Lighthouse for the search for the missing crew of The Coast Guard Helicopter. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
The Garda Water Unit pictured preparing to join the search at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
A Coast Guard Helicopter lands at Blacksod Lighthouse today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Boatmen pictured landing helicopter debris at Blacksod Lighthouse, Belmullet, today. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
BOATMEN PICTURED LANDING HELICOPTER DEBRIS AT BLACKSOD LIGHTHOUSE TODAY. PIC COLIN O'RIORDAN
Coast Guard Members searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
People watching the lifeboat searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
The lifeboat searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
The Ballyglass lifeboat changing crew to continue the search for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod Pier, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
14/03/2017 The Ballyglass lifeboat changing crew to continue the search for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod Pier, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Coastguard searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Coast Guard Members searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Coast Guard Members searching for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod lighthouse, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
Gardai approaching the Ballyglass lifeboat changing crew to continue the search for a Coast Guard Helicopter Missing at Blacksod Pier, Belmullet, Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Helicopter wreckage is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
The seach continues at Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017
Wreckage from the Rescue 116 Helicopter is brought back to Blacksod Pier after the Coastguard Helicopter crash. Pic Steve Humphreys 14th March 2017

Ben Ronayne said: "I woke up early on Tuesday morning, turned on the radio and found out what happened, hopped in the car and came straight up here. I heard the news on the radio. It's disbelief. None of us have been able to get over it yet, it's still a shock. It's not real. It doesn't seem real at all," he said.

"Mark was a fantastic guy. He just had a persona about him. He was an absolute fantastic father and brilliant husband to my cousin.

"He did everything for his kids. As much he could to help, he was just a fantastic man. The waiting is the biggest problem now. The families have been so well looked after up here.

"The wait is just the hardest thing," Mr Ronayne added.

The Duffy family live in Blackrock, Co Louth, where a candlelit vigil will take place at the Sundial at 8pm tonight.

Read More: 'We are shattered... when it happens on your door step, it hits you hard'

Capt Fitzpatrick, who along with the three missing men would have saved the lives of dozens of people over her distinguished career, will be laid to rest tomorrow. The mass will take place at 11am in St Patrick's Church, Glencullen followed by a cremation at Mount Jerome, Harold's Cross.

The families of the three missing crew members are continuing to be supported by the multiple agencies involved in the search operation and the local community. The Granuaile vessel was expected to arrive at Black Rock at 5am today where it will carry out an underwater sonar-scan once the weather conditions improve.

Derek Geoghegan, of the Irish Coast Guard, said that a window of good weather was paramount for sonar scanning and a dive to be carried out.

"With the weather window we've established we're going to go straight in with an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) or a naval dive team once we've established where the (black) box is, and hopefully that our colleagues are with that wreckage.

"We identified that window of three to four hours on Sunday."

He said they will need to scan the area for obstacles before they can then begin a detailed search.

"The preparatory work we'll have to do, a lot of that this evening and tomorrow in terms of there'll be a scheduling of the vessels going in; it's about 100m from the rock. When you're working in there with a huge swell then there's obviously a danger to the person we would say," he said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News