R116 inquest adjourned to allow further investigation

Garda Diver Enda Broderick and Naval Diver Courtney Gibbons arriving at Belmullet Courthouse, Co. Mayo for the inquests into the deaths of the crew members of Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter 116. Photo : Keith Heneghan

Garda Diver Enda Broderick and Naval Diver Courtney Gibbons arriving at Belmullet Courthouse, Co. Mayo for the inquests into the deaths of the crew members of Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter 116. Photo : Keith Heneghan

The preliminary inquest into the deaths of the four crew members of the Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 was adjourned yesterday (Thursday ) afternoon, just hours after it opened in Belmullet Courthouse.

The inquest into the deaths of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, and winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith was due to open in Belmullet in early March, but was postponed due to the inclement weather conditions. Yesterday’s inquest was preliminary, as investigations into the crash are continuing.

Family members and friends of the deceased and the missing crew, attended the hearing where details were outlined of the cause of death of Dara Fitzpatrick and Mark Duffy.

The bodies of Mr Ormsby and Mr Smith have not been recovered, in spite of extensive air, sea, and shore searches, but at yesterday’s inquest, they were officially declared dead, with the cause of death being “lost at sea.”

The four crew members died when their Coast Guard helicopter crashed at Blackrock island, off the north Mayo coast, in the early hours of March 14 last year.

At yesterday’s inquest, it was confirmed that Captain Dara Fitzpatrick died by drowning in the early hours of March 14, prior to arriving at Mayo University Hospital.

The body of Captain Mark Duffy was found 12 days later, still in the helicopter, and he died from multiple injuries sustained in the crash.

The coroner for north Mayo Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald adjourned the inquests to allow investigations by the Gardai and the Health & Safety Authority to continue, while a separate investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Unit is also continuing.

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