GARDA DIVERS DELAY IN HUNT FOR RESCUE 116
Bad weather hits mission to find last two copter crew
GARDA divers will begin fresh searches for the missing Rescue 116 heroes tomorrow after the mission was called off over the weekend due to bad weather.
Choppy conditions delayed the operation to find the remains of Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby who lost their lives in the helicopter crash off the Mayo coastline earlier this year.
The bodies of the other Coast Guard crew members, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Mark Duffy, were recovered in the days after their helicopter came down at Blackrock Island on March 14.
Garda Superintendent Tony Healy, who is leading the investigation, had intended starting the new searches today but hopes the weather will permit them to begin tomorrow.
Members of the Garda Sub Aqua team will set up base on a fishing vessel kitted with a specially-made net which will trawl some of the areas around the scene of the crash.
Volunteers on the ground will do a search of their own that follows the sea mission, in case any material of interest is washed up on shore. The search trawler was due to complete work around the Blackrock area to learn more about the type of seabed facing the operation. In a shocking revelation last week, it emerged on RTE’S Prime Time that a pilot who had carried out test flights on the helicopter had reported Blackrock Island missing from the onboard warning system four years ago. He flagged the lethal error but it was not corrected, with fatal consequences for all four Rescue 116 crew. The programme also revealed a private operator had taken over the Coast Guard’s Search and Rescue service in 2012 and fitted out all machines with an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System.
This usually warns pilots it they are getting too close to an obstacle but it only works if its database has a complete picture of the flight path.
But now all potential obstacles posing a danger off the Irish coastline have been addressed, according to retired Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Byrne.
SEARCH Coast Guard helicopter off Co Mayo