Tuesday 10 December 2019

Police helicopter crashes in the Mournes

It is unclear which of these two police helicopters was the one involved in the incident. Photo: PA
It is unclear which of these two police helicopters was the one involved in the incident. Photo: PA

Four police personnel were injured today when a helicopter overturned as it took off from the scene of last week's fatal helicopter crash in Co Down.

Police said all four were not seriously injured in the accident on the Mourne Mountains. They have been taken to hospital for treatment.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) helicopter was involved in the clear-up operation following Saturday's crash, which claimed the lives of three people, one of them a close friend of Prince Charles.

The helicopter, a Eurocopter Squirrel on lease to the PSNI, was carrying a pilot, photographer, observer and an officer from the police emergency team.

The cause of the accident, which occurred in poor weather, is being examined by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport.

All the occupants managed to stumble out of the helicopter. Two were then placed on stretchers and carried to another part of the mountain, where they were airlifted to hospital.

On Saturday, three people were killed when a helicopter crashed into the same mountain side, in an area known locally as Leitrim Lodge, between Hilltown and Rostrevor.

Charles Stisted, Ian Wooldridge and their pilot, who has yet to be named, died in the incident.

They were flying back to England after taking part in a shooting hunt at Baronscourt country estate in Co Tyrone.

Mr Stisted, a friend of the Prince of Wales, and Mr Wooldridge were both members of the exclusive Guards Polo Club at Windsor.

The Mourne Mountains area is internationally renowned for its picturesque scenery. The range, set on the coastline of south Co Down, is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The highest mountain in the range, Slieve Donard, is nearly 3,000 feet high.

But changeable weather patterns along the coast and the presence of the mountains have led to tragedy in the past.

In June last year three men were killed when their light aircraft crashed into a field near a private landing strip at Kilkeel, Co Down.

Meanwhile, an Irish maritime patrol aircraft made an emergency landing at Eglinton Airport, Derry this afternoon.

The Air Corps CASA aircraft was on a routine operation about 150 miles off the west coast when a warning light activated in the cockpit at approximately 11.10am.

One of the aircraft's two engines were shut down as a precaution and a controlled emergency landing carried out safely at the airport. The aircraft touched down at 1.34pm.

An Air Corps technical team is en route from Baldonnel to Derry to examine the plane.

A previous precautionary emergency landing was carried out by this aircraft at Kerry Airport, Farranfore, on October 22 due to an electrical fault associated with the pneumatic system.

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