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Body of missing Dundalk pilot found in wreckage

March 27, 2017

The body of Rescue 116 pilot Mark Duffy has been found in the wreckage of the Irish Coast Guard helicopter which crashed off the coast of Mayo on 14th March. The remains of the Dundalk father-of-two were located on Friday evening by divers who had been carrying out underwater searches at the wreckage site since early morning. Mark, who is married to well-known designer Hermione Duffy, was found in the cockpit of the stricken helicopter. Ocean swells in the area initially hampered efforts to recover the body of the missing crewman but calmer sea conditions on Sunday allowed search divers to remove the Dundalk man’s body from the wreckage, which was discovered on Wednesday last.  A formal identification of his remains was made on Sunday.

Two other missing crew members, Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith, have yet to be located.

The black box of the helicopter was also located on Saturday. Investigators hope it may shed some light on what happened to the chopper, which was located some 60 metres off Blackrock Island more than a week after it had crashed into the Atlantic.  The helicopter crew had been providing cover for another Coast Guard helicopter involved in an early-morning evacuation of a crewman needing urgent medical attention aboard a UK-registered trawler, approximately 150 miles (240km) west of Eagle Island in Co Mayo in the early hours of March 14th.  R116 flew directly to the scene from Dublin, travelled around 10 miles (16km) out to sea, then turned back towards land to refuel.  There was no indication of any danger moments before the helicopter vanished, although visibility was described as poor at the time.

Only one crew member of four, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, was discovered following the smash. The mother-of-one was initially deemed critically-ill but later confirmed dead.

Air and shoreline searches are continuing for the bodies of the remaining two missing crewmen.

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