Saturday 24 February 2018

'They will never be forgotten and will make us aspire to do them proud' - daughter of helicopter crash couple

Donald and Sharon Burke
Donald and Sharon Burke

Kathy Armstrong

A heartbroken girl who lost five family members, including both her parents, in last week's tragic helicopter crash has called them "the best type of people, who were so selfless and genuine to everyone they met".

Olivia Burke released the touching statement today as the Welsh authorities confirmed the remains of the helicopter have been removed from the Rhinog mountains and will undergo a detailed examination by the Air Accident Investigation Board.

Brothers Kevin, Donald and Barry Burke had been travelling on the red twin Squirrel aircraft with Kevin's wife Ruth and Donald's wife Sharon from their home in Milton Keynes to Dublin for a confirmation when they tragically crashed into the Rhinog mountains. All five lost their lives.

Donald and Sharon's daughter Olivia remembered her loved ones as she vowed to "do them proud."

She said: "Our family has changed within the space of a day. They were taken far too soon and it’s hard for us to understand why such a tragedy would happen to the best type of people, who were so selfless and genuine to everyone they met.

"They embodied every attribute of an amazing parent, sibling, child and friend. That will never be forgotten and will only make us aspire to do them proud.

"We would appreciate if everyone could respect our wishes to be left alone and allow us the time to come to terms with the events of the last few days, through the support of our family and friends."

Read More: All five helicopter crash victims recovered, investigation to begin - police confirm

Donald and Barry Burke
Donald and Barry Burke

Sharon's relatives also paid tribute to those on board, as they spoke about their unbelievable loss.

Speaking on behalf of the Stewardson family, Kath Stewardson said: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for their support and messages of condolences on the loss of our wonderful daughter, sister and auntie, Sharon Burke, her husband Donald, his brothers Kevin and Barry also Kevin's wife Ruth.

"We are truly overwhelmed with all your love and support. Our thoughts at this time are especially with Sharon and Donald's three wonderful Children who are a credit to their parents."

They also thanked the emergency services for their recovery efforts.

They said: "We would like to pass on special thanks to all of the emergency services and public who helped in the search and recovery of our loved ones, also the police liaison officers who have been a great help at this difficult time."

Read More: Helicopter family were flying home for Confirmation

Kevin and Ruth Burke
Kevin and Ruth Burke

The Air Restriction Zone that has been in place since the crash happened has been lifted but the scene is still being cordoned and protected as examinations are ongoing.

Chief Inspector Richie Green at North Wales Police said: "Now those who tragically lost their lives have been recovered and the wreckage removed a further methodical search and examination is required before we can release the ‘scene’. 

“I am very grateful for the continued patience and understanding of the public as we bring this complex and difficult stage of the investigation to a close.

"The AAIB will now begin a detailed examination of the aircraft whilst my officers speak with witnesses and to this end we are still appealing to anyone who was in the Rhinog Mountains area of Snowdonia between 12 noon and 1pm on Wednesday 29th March and may have heard or seen the helicopter to contact North Wales Police.

"North Wales Police and Thames Valley Police continue to support family members and they asked for the following tributes and photographs to be shared.  Our thoughts remain with them."

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