Body of Irish coast guard killed in helicopter crash found

Jasmine Andersson
Theresa May

A week into their search, a body of an Irish Coast Guard member has been found after a helicopter crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

Eight dives were carried out on the Sikorsky S92 wreckage that is lying about 60m off Blackrock island, 13 miles off the coast of County Mayo.

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The body was in the cockpit of the helicopter on the seabed in 40m of water.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, a 45-year-old mother, was the first of the four crew members to be recovered from the ocean.

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She had been with the rescue team for more than 20 years.

Garda superintendent Tony Healy said efforts the force were continuing to recover the body.

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"It's a challenging time for the families. Obviously, they're going through a stressful time waiting for the recovery of their loved ones," he said.

The Irish Naval ship LÉ Eithne is coordinating the recovery operation with the support of the Irish Coast Guard, the Gardai, the RNLI and fishermen with knowledge of local conditions.

The underwater terrain has proven difficult to traverse with the inclement weather, but a more moderate forecast for the weekend (25 March) should make the search easier.

"Operations are continuing but are weather dependent," Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit added.

Search teams are still trying to locate the helicopter's three other crew members: Captain Mark Duffy, Winchman Ciaran Smith and Winch Operator Paul Ormsby.

Clues to what happened during the flight could be contained in the 'black box' flight recorder salvaged from the wreckage.

The device, which holds the flight data and voice records of the flight, is still intact and has been taken by investigators for analysis.

Family members of the crew have been notified and are being supported by Garda liaison staff.

A candlelit vigil has been held in memory of the victims.

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