Search update: Taoiseach and president lead tributes to Coastguard captain killed off Mayo coast

6pm update:

Bundoran RNLI have released a statement of their shock at today’s tragic events:

The management and crew of Bundoran RNLI are deeply saddened by today’s tragic events. We have a very close working relationship with the Irish Coast Guard helicopter based at Sligo and train regularly with them. We send our condolences to the family and colleagues of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and keep the other missing crew members in our thoughts at this difficult time. As a gesture of respect, we will be lowering the flag at our station to half mast.

The President has also paid tribute to captain Fitzpatrick on behalf of the people of Ireland.

In a statement Michael D. Higgins commended the emergency services and those from local communities in Mayo who have responded in great solidarity at this time of tragedy.

While The Transport Minister says today is one of the darkest days for our brave and committed emergency services.

Shane Ross says his thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved:


Gerard O’Flynn, the Search and Rescue Operations manager with the Irish Coastguard, says search conditions remain good in the North Mayo area:

4pm update:

The Taoiseach’s led tributes to Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who has died after being recovered off the coast of Mayo.

Captain Fitzpatrick was one of the four people on board Rescue 116, when it went down in waters off Blacksod last night.

The search is continuing this afternoon for the three other members of the search-and-rescue crew.

The Taoiseach says the area is one he knows well.

3pm update:

The casualty rescued off the Mayo coast this morning has died in hospital.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was the only member of a crew of four to be recovered from the sea so far.

The search operation is continuing this afternoon.

Gerry O’Flynn from the Irish coastguard confirmed the news and said Dara was the most senior pilot with CHC, who were contracted to operate helicopter Rescue 116 when it went down last night:

1pm update:

Efforts are continuing to find three crewmen from a coastguard helicopter missing off the west coast.

Rescue 116 disappeared from radar screens several miles off the Mayo coast shortly before 1 o’clock this morning, with 4 people on board.

The coastguard lost contact with Rescue 116 as the helicopter was coming in to refuel in Co Mayo.

It was due to join Rescue 118 in a supervising capacity as the other helicopter carried out a Medevac mission.

However the rescue efforts turned instead to finding the helicopter shortly after they lost contact.

Director of the Coastguard Eugene Clonan said it’s been a tough day.

There was no mayday call from Rescue 116

Shortly before sunrise the coastguard picked up one of the crew, who is in a critical condition.

They also spotted debris, which is spread over a wide field and was first spotted less than two miles from Blackrock lighthouse.

Jurgen Whyte is the Chief Aeronautical Officer with the Air Accident Investigation Unit

He says they’re hopeful the helicopter’s black box will tell them what went wrong.