Divers Recover Irish Coast Guard Pilot's Body
An Irish Naval Service dive team has recovered the body of Capt. Mark Duffy, 51, who died in the crash of an Irish Coast Guard helicopter on March 14.
Duffy's colleagues in helicopter Rescue 115 provided an airborne escort as a patrol vessel carried his body to shore, and pilots and coast guard members marched alongside Duffy's hearse as it drove away from the pier.
Last Wednesday, an ROV found the wreckage of Rescue 116 just off of Blackrock Island, near the coast of County Mayo. Investigators had picked up a locator beacon signal in the vicinity of the island the week earlier, narrowing the search area. Irish Coast Guard, Irish Naval Service, RNLI, Irish Air Corps, An Garda Síochána and Mayo Civil Defence teams all participated in the SAR effort.
Co-pilot Dara Fitzpatrick was rescued on the day of the crash, but she did not survive long enough to reach a hospital. The search for winchman Ciarán Smith, 38, and winch operator Paul Ormsby, 53, still continues. Divers have attached airbag salvage gear to the helicopter's fuselage in preparation for raising it from the seabed, allowing them to look underneath, and additional dive teams are searching the waters around the island. Authorities are also using a small fleet of drones to patrol the coastline in case the missing men's bodies should float ashore.
The Naval Service divers have recovered the "black box" recorder from the helicopter, and investigators hope that its contents will shed light on the flight's final moments. The cause of the accident remains under investigation, but it is believed that Rescue 116's tail may have struck the rocks on the island's west end as the helicopter approached for a landing.