QUIET CONTEMPLATION Fishermen Gary Bohan and John Shevlin carry debris from the Coast Guard Helicopter as they talk to members of the rescue services. Pic: Keith Heneghan
‘It is a big shock to the area. In my lifetime I have never seen anything like this’ – volunteer
Two local volunteers involved in the search for the remaining crew of Coast Guard rescue helicopter R116 have described how the crash scene is scattered over two square miles. The tragedy has already claimed one life, that of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick. The search for her colleagues continues.
Gary Bohan and John Shevlin from Belmullet brought ashore remnants of the helicopter, which crashed approximately 8 miles off the Blacksod coast in the early hours of the morning.
Speaking shortly after they came ashore at Blacksod Pier, the Gary and John described how the sea conditions were very rough.
“We went out about 9am and the conditions in the morning were very bad, swells of up to five metres,” Gary said.
“It is a big shock to the area. In my lifetime I have never seen anything like this, fishing tragedies yes, but nothing of this scale.
“The biggest piece of the helicopter I saw was about a metre wide. There are bits all over the place. We brought in about ten to 15 pieces, mainly from the side panel and the rotar blade.”
The currents and wind are combining to spread the debris further from the crash site at Blackrock lighthouse, around eight miles from the Blacksod shore.
The majority of the debris found will be transported on the navy vessel LÉ Róisín, where investigators will try to determing the cause of the crash.
While the two volunteers were coming ashore, members of the Air Accident Investigation Unit and the Garda Water Unit were transported to the crash scene as the search for the three remaining crew members of the Coast Guard rescue helicopter R116 continues.
As time goes by, hopes that they will be found alive are fading.