Rescue 116 items recovered from the Atlantic

A helmet and lifejacket believed to be from crashed Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 have been recovered from the Atlantic almost 16 months after the tragedy.

The bodies of winchman Ciaran Smith, left, and winch operator Paul Ormsby were never recovered after Rescue 116 crashed last year.

Gardaí confirmed that a fisherman discovered the items while fishing just off the west coast — about one nautical mile north of Achill Island last Thursday, July 12.

The items were found about 12km south of where the Dublin-based search and rescue helicopter crashed in the early hours of March 14, 2017, while on a mission.

Rescue 116 struck Blackrock Island while it was flying on a route to refuel at Blacksod, and crashed into the sea, with the loss of all four crew on board.

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was recovered from the water within hours and was later pronounced dead in hospital. Following an extensive search operation, the body of Capt Mark Duffy was recovered from the wreckage in about 40m of water off Blackrock Island by divers on March 26. Two other crew members, winchman Ciaran Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby are still missing.

Aircraft’s flight data was recovered and salvage experts later helped recover the main bulk of the helicopter for inspection.

Air accident reports have been published and recommendations made but this discovery of items which may be directly linked to the two missing crew is the most significant development since.

It is understood the items were discovered after a fisherman hauled his tangle gear on board last Thursday evening.

A garda spokesman confirmed that the items have been handed to gardaí in Belmullet, who are overseeing the investigation into the deaths of the helicopter crew, and who have now taken possession of the items.


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