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R116 inquests postponed due to bad weather


QUIET CONTEMPLATION Fishermen Gary Bohan and John Shevlin carry debris from the Coast Guard Helicopter as they talk to members of the rescue services last March. Pic: Keith Heneghan

Anton McNulty

The preliminary inquests into the deaths of the four crew members of Coast Guard helicopter R116, which were due to open tomorrow (Thursday), have been cancelled.
The inquests into the deaths of Commander Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith were due to open in Belmullet Courthouse on Thursday morning but due to the adverse weather conditions, the Coroner for North Mayo, Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald made the decision to postpone them. An alternative date has yet to be confirmed.
A status red weather warning for snow and ice has been issued by Met Éireann for Munster and Leinster, and it remains valid until midday on Friday. While the snow is not expected to hit Mayo until Thursday night and Friday morning, the family of the four crew members and the majority of the witness expects have to travel from the east coast.
The four crew members of the rescue helicopter, R116 died when the helicopter crashed into Blackrock Island in Blacksod Bay on March 14 last. The bodies of Commander Dara Fitzpatrick and co-pilot Captain Mark Duffy were recovered soon after the accident but despite and extensive search, the bodies of their colleagues, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith have yet to be found.
The crew were providing top cover for the Sligo-based R118 rescue helicopter as it performed a medical evacuation of a fishing vessel located over 100 miles off the Mayo coast. They were returning to Blacksod to refuel when they struck the island located approximately 12km from the Blacksod coast.


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