Dundalk as it Happens
Rescue 116 crew remembered one year on from tragic accident
The families and friends of those killed in the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter crash a year ago today attended a vigil in their memory in Co Mayo last night ahead of a special ceremony this morning.
Today marks one year since the helicopter went down near Blackrock Island with the loss of all four crew members, including Blackrock man Captain Mark Duffy.
In the early hours of March 14, 2017, the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter carrying four rescue workers collided with Blackrock, a remote island around 13km off the Mayo coast.
While the body of Captain Duffy and his colleague Captain Dara Fitzpatrick were recovered after the crash, their colleagues Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith remain lost at sea. Capt Fitzpatrick’s remains were found in the hours after the incident but it was 12 days more before the remains of father of two Duffy were recovered. His funeral in the days that followed would bring the seaside village of Blackrock to a standstill.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was amongst those to pay tribute to the four brave crew members.
“It is the one-year anniversary, and they have been on my mind. I have been reading some of the coverage of the anniversary when I have had time over the past couple of days.
“I am a former Minister for Transport, so I know the Coastguard well, and indeed I met Captain Dara Fitzpatrick during my role as Minister. I am conscious at this stage that there are families who are still grieving and of course there are families who do not have the remains of their loved ones, and my thoughts are very much with them at this sad time,” Mr Varadkar said in Washington.
Preliminary inquests into the death of the four crew members of the R116 Coast Guard rescue helicopter is expected to open before the end of the month having been postponed due to the red weather warning at the start of March.
Niamh Fitzpatrick, the sister of Captain Fitzpatrick paid tribute to her as the first anniversary of the disaster approaches after posting an emotional tweet on Twitter.
“It’s nearly a year since my sister died. Almost 52 weeks since I last saw her. I never went that long in my whole life without seeing her. Now I’ll live the rest of my life without ever seeing her again. Make sure that your loved ones know that you love them. It does help…” she tweeted.