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Rescheduled R116 inquest expected to take place before end of March


Anton McNulty

The rescheduled preliminary inquests into the death of the four crew members of the R116 Coast Guard rescue helicopter is expected to open before the end of the month.
The inquests were due to open last Thursday in Belmullet courthouse but the inclement weather conditions forced its cancellation. The four crew members of R116 - Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith - died when their helicopter crashed into an island in Blacksod Bay on March 14, 2017.
The Coroner for North Mayo, Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald is currently making arrangements to set a new date for the opening of the inquests which will accommodate families of the crew members along with witnesses who are to give evidence.
Dr Fitzgerald told The Mayo News that she did not want to delay the opening of the inquests any further and was aiming for a date around the last week in March to open them.
The inquests are due to be heard in Belmullet but it is expected will be adjourned soon after it commences as separate investigations by An Garda Síochána and the Accident Air Investigation Unit have yet to be completed.
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 Blackrock Island located approximately 12km from the Blacksod coast.
The body of Captain Fitzpatrick was found shortly after the accident occurred while Captain Duffy was found in the wreckage on March 26, 2017 and taken ashore the next day. Despite an extensive search of the area, the bodies of Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith have never been recovered.
Meanwhile, Niamh Fitzpatrick, the sister of Captain Fitzpatrick paid tribute to her as the first anniversary of the disaster approaches after posting an emotional tweet on Twitter
“It’s nearly a year since my sister died. Almost 52 weeks since I last saw her. I never went that long in my whole life without seeing her. Now I’ll live the rest of my life without ever seeing her again. Make sure that your loved ones know that you love them. It does help…” she tweeted.


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