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'We are ok, but just ok': Coast Guard pays tribute to victims of R116 on third anniversary

Four crew members lost their lives in the crash three years ago this week.

THE IRISH COAST Guard has paid tribute to the four men and women who die in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash in March 2017. 

The Coast Guard paid tribute on social media to the their colleagues who died during the crash – on the eve of the third anniversary – and earlier today “left a special signature in the sky” in their memory. 

“Working under Irish Coast Guard Helicopter R116 today, we rescued a lady cut off by the tide on Merrion Strand, which dropped her back safely on the beach to the Dun Laoghaire crew,” the Facebook post said. 

“R116 just after midnight 3 years ago in the early hours of the 14th of March 2017, a Sikorsky S-92 Irish Coast Guard helicopter went off the radar, Call Sign R116. (sic)

“We lost 4 colleagues that we loved and today still are left uneasy.”

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, Captain Mark Duffy, 51, and winchmen Paul Ormsby, 53, and Ciaran Smith, 38, all died when their Sikorsky S-92 helicopter crashed into Blackrock Island off the coast of Mayo.

It is understood that inaccurate charts and risk of fatigue were among some of the contributing factors in the tragic crash.

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“The expression we heard recently sums up how most Irish Coast Guard personal today still feel now 4 years on about the loss… ‘We are ok but just ok ‘,” the Facebook post continued.

“Today’s rescue, R116 left a special signature in the sky after the rescue, in its AIS trail. That’s like a foot print of its pathway in the sky. R116 in a heart, what a beautiful signature.”

The Air Accident Investigation Unit has been gathering evidence as part of an inquiry into the crash and it is due to publish a report in the coming months.

A review board has been established to review the findings of that report which is expected to make a number of recommendations. 

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