Lifejacket and helmet found washed up near Blacksod Bay belong to Rescue 116 crewman Ciaran Smith
Gardaí have confirmed that a lifejacket and helmet found near Blacksod Bay over the weekend belongs to missing Rescue 116 crewman, Ciaran Smith.
The items were discovered by a member of the public in the townland of Elly near Clogher at approximately 8am on Saturday September 30.
Gardai have confirmed that they belong to missing rescue worker Ciaran Smith (38).
No trace of Mr Smith or his colleague Paul Ormsby (53) had been found since their Coastguard helicopter Rescue 116 crashed into Blackrock island in the early hours of March 14 last.
The remains of their colleagues - captain Dara Fitzpatrick and captain Mark Duffy - were recovered in the aftermath of the tragedy.
A number of search operations have been carried out across the coast since the tragedy but the remains of Mr Smith and Mr Ormsby have not been located.
This latest find is the first major breakthrough in a the last number of months and is likely to lead to further searches in the area.
Mr Smith's sister Orla previously spoke of the ongoing torment for her family.
In April she told Independent.ie "It is a living nightmare for all of us. For all of my family and Paul Ormsby's family it is a living nightmare. We're doing our best to keep going, to stay as strong as possible and to stay as positive as we can. But it is tough, it is really, really tough. We need those boys home now. We really do."
- Read More: 'It's a living nightmare, we need those boys home now' - sister of missing Rescue 116 crew member as search continues
An inquiry is ongoing to determine how Rescue 116 went down.
Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) has established that the Sikorksy S-92's internal warning system did not include the 80m (262ft) high rocky outcrop and its working lighthouse in its database.
The search and rescue helicopter crashed after hitting Blackrock Island while coming back from supporting a mission for an injured trawlerman out in the Atlantic.