Inquiry by air accident unit into winch rescue begins

Coast Guard had notified AAIU of incident where girl slipped mid-rescue from winch

The Irish Coast Guard  notified the AAIU of an incident where a 15-year-old girl slipped from a rescue strop as the winch crew were trying to recover her and another teenager into the aircraft.

The Irish Coast Guard notified the AAIU of an incident where a 15-year-old girl slipped from a rescue strop as the winch crew were trying to recover her and another teenager into the aircraft.

 

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) has initiated an investigation into a winching incident that occurred during the rescue of two teenagers from the sea off Co Wexford on Sunday.

It has appealed to the public for any video or camera footage of the rescue and recovery by the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky helicopter near Hook Head.

The AAIU said it had taken the decision after a preliminary review, and would investigate the circumstances “related specifically to the air rescue and recovery operation” and would publish a report “in due course”.

The Irish Coast Guard had already notified the AAIU of the incident, where a 15-year-old girl slipped from a rescue strop as the winch crew were trying to recover her and another teenager into the aircraft.

Difficult conditions

Sea conditions were extremely difficult when a group of four teenagers, who were part of a scout group, were swept off rocks near Hook Head on Sunday afternoon.

Two of the four managed to reach shore, but a boy and girl remained in the water. The girl, unconscious and floating head down in the water, was kept afloat by the boy, of the same age, who is credited with helping to save her life.

She remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Both teenagers were lifted from the sea simultaneously by the winch team in a highly challenging manoeuvre, as both were considered to be in immediate danger close to rocks.

Normally one by one

Casualties would normally be taken one by one from the water or a boat deck.

An internal debrief after the rescue found the helicopter crew had no option if both lives were to be saved.

The entire rescue operation is understood to have been completed in 17 minutes from time of callout.

Scouting Ireland is conducting its own review of the expedition to ascertain what occurred in the lead-up to the incident and whether the trip, involving 14 children and experienced scout leaders, could have been made safer.

Members of the public with relevant camera or video footage can contact the AAIU at emailinfo@aaiu.ie