Two families still waiting - Helicopter tragedies

THERE was a chilling coincidence around yesterday’s funeral of Captain Mark Duffy, who died when the Coast Guard helicopter crashed off the coast of Mayo 18 days ago.

Two families still waiting - Helicopter tragedies

Just as Capt Duffy’s life and courage were celebrated at his funeral in Blackrock, Co Louth, the wreckage of the Twin Squirrel helicopter that had gone missing overnight while travelling from Milton Keynes to Dublin was found. That grim discovery was made in Snowdonia and police confirmed that the bodies of all five passengers had been found too. A search of the Irish Sea and Snowdonia for the privately-owned aircraft was launched on Wednesday afternoon after it disappeared from radar systems.

Captain Duffy was buried two weeks after his colleague Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who also gave her life in the Mayo tragedy, was buried. Capt Duffy’s uncle Fr Stephen Duffy was the main celebrant. He captured the sense of loss felt across the country when he said that “this is more than a family tragedy; it is a community catastrophe.”

There can never be a league table of tragedy or pain but yesterday’s two events inevitably pointed to another one that remains a terribly challenging, painful situation.

The bodies of Capt Duffy’s and Capt Fitzpatrick’s crewmates, winchman Ciarán Smith and winch operator Paul Ormsby have yet to be recovered. Hopefully that will change soon so their families might have the peace they deserve.

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