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Divers renew hunt for bodies of Coast Guard helicopter crew

By Brian O'Reilly and Ed Carty

Scores of divers took part in renewed efforts to find the bodies of two winchmen from an Irish Coast Guard helicopter that crashed in the Atlantic last month.

Rescue 116 went down off Co Mayo at 12.46am on March 14 with four crew on board after it struck Blackrock island, 12 miles offshore.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, commander of the flight, was pulled from the sea, while the body of Captain Mark Duffy, co-pilot on the flight, was taken from the cockpit 12 days later by Navy divers working at depths of 40 metres. The bodies of winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith have not been found.

Divers from clubs affiliated to the Irish Underwater Council joined the Garda sub-aqua unit and local fishing boats for a focused inspection of the seabed around Blackrock.

A wreath-laying ceremony also took place on the pier next to the lighthouse in Blacksod where Rescue 116 had been due to refuel before tragedy struck.

Meanwhile, the sister of hero Rescue 116 Captain Fitzpatrick has spoken about how she has been coping since the tragedy. Talking to Neil Delamere on Today FM yesterday, Niamh Fitzpatrick spoke about life since the tragedy.

"You get the inconsolable moments, and then you have moments where you feel numb; as if this is all happening, but it's happening through a glass window and we're watching it," she explained.

"The odd time, you feel normal, and then you feel weird feeling normal."

"You have a pain in your chest, your stomach drops, you're exhausted, you have these, what I can only describe as these heaving, racking sobs that take you to your knees."

She revealed that the family had been overwhelmed with the support they have received.

"I didn't need my faith in humanity restored because I always had it, but my faith in humanity has been boosted by the way that people have shown their support," she said.

"It's been absolutely incredible, and it does help, because this is lonely.

"The whole experience has been just huge emotionally and, you know, grief is physical."

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