Coast Guard crew to be remembered at nationwide events

President Higgins due to attend funeral of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick in Dublin today

Searches continue on the beaches of Belmullet, Co Mayo for the missing Coast Guard Helicopter crew yesteday. Photograph: Keith Heneghan / Phocus

Searches continue on the beaches of Belmullet, Co Mayo for the missing Coast Guard Helicopter crew yesteday. Photograph: Keith Heneghan / Phocus

 

The crew of the Rescue 116 helicopter which crashed into the sea off the Mayo coast earlier this week will be remembered at a number of events this weekend.

President Michael D Higgins is due to attend the funeral of Irish Coast Guard pilot Capt Dara Fitzpatrick in Glencullen, Dublin today – the only one of the four-person crew of the helicopter whose body has been recovered.

A minute’s silence will also be held before the start of the Ireland-England rugby match at the Aviva stadium for Capt Fitzpatrick and for her three colleagues who are still missing – airmen Capt Mark Duffy, winch operator Paul Ormsby and winchman Ciaran Smith.

Hampered search

High winds and a heavy Atlantic swell hampered the continued search for them yesterday.

“Extremely frustrating” was how Cdr Brian Fitzgerald, captain of the Naval Service patrol ship LÉ Eithne, described the weather conditions off the north Mayo coast yesterday.

“I have a crew of 55 here who are bursting to be involved, but the nature of this situation is that we have to hold off till it is safe, and be ready and be fresh when the opportunity comes,” he said.

The air crew’s Sikorsky S-92 search and rescue helicopter crashed off the north Mayo coast early last Tuesday, while approaching land to make a routine refuelling before planning to give support or provide “top cover” to a medical evacuation.

Black box recorder

Wind conditions are forecast to moderate on Sunday evening, which may provide a window early next week for retrieving the aircraft’s “black box” recorder.

Its faint signal was detected on Wednesday in 40m of water just 50m to 60m off the Blackrock lighthouse plateau, which lies 13km west of Blacksod lighthouse and close to the last known position of the helicopter.

Belmullet Garda Supt Tony Healy has urged members of the public who find any items relating to the search to notify the Garda of the location immediately.

Meanwhile, the people of Blackrock, Co Louth turned out in their hundreds last night to remember Capt Mark Duffy and to offer support to his family. Mr Duffy’s wife Hermione and two children were among those in attendance.