Local tributes paid to Coastguard crash victim

The Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Hubert Keaney has expressed his sympathy to the family of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who lost her life in a helicopter crash off the West coast.

The Sligo 118 Rescue aircraft and a number of fishing vessels from the North West have been taking part in the major search operation to find the other three crew members off the Mayo coast at Blacksod.

The helicopter appears to have gone down just as it was about to refuel at Blacksod before flying out to assist the Sligo chopper at a medical evacuation from a vessel over 200km out to sea.

The Sligo 118 spotted the debris from the wreckage as it successfully brought the fisherman back to shore where he was taken to hospital early yesterday morning.

The only crew member taken from the water so far Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was brought ashore by the Achill RNLI sometime later but pronounced dead in hospital in Mayo yesterday evening.

It’s understood debris from the chopper is being brought ashore piece by piece and family members are being kept informed.

The Bundoran RNLI says its thoughts are with all of the families of the crew and a spokesperson told Ocean FM News they will be lowering their flag to half mast today as a mark of respect.

Meanwhile, FG Cllr Hubert Keaney, who is in America this week for the St. Patrick’s day events, said in a statement today that ‘Our emergency and rescue services display enormous courage in carrying out their vital work, often in very difficult and challenging circumstances.’

He says the whole community in Sligo shares their grief at the loss of Captain Fitzpatrick and their concern for the missing crew members.’

The Cathaoirleach also commended the crew of the Sligo based Irish Coast Guard helicopter for their role in the ongoing operation.

Meanwhile, North West Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has also paid tribute to Captain Dara Fitzpatrick saying people like Captain Fitzpatrick and her crew are great, brave people who never flinch from their duties and who put themselves entirely at risk of nature to save others.

The Fine Gael MEP said despite the challenges of the job, she always wanted to carry-out these life-saving tasks: