Belfast Telegraph

Woman winched to safety by replacement for Rescue 116

By Allan Preston

Months after the tragic crash of an Irish Coastguard helicopter, Rescue 116's replacement has been called to Northern Ireland's north coast for the first time.

On March 14, a crew from the Dublin-based Rescue 116 team crashed off the coast of Co Mayo killing captain Dara Fitzpatrick, captain Mark Duffy, winchman Paul Ormsby and winch operator Ciaran Smith.

The helicopter struck Blackrock island, 12 miles from the coast. A preliminary report published in April said the island had not been included in an obstacle warning system on board the aircraft.

To date, the bodies of Mr Ormsby and Mr Smith have not been recovered, despite one of the largest ever searches in Irish history.

Yesterday, the Rescue 116 team dispatched their replacement helicopter to help an injured woman on Carrick-a-Rede island, situated beside the famous rope bridge.

At first, a rescue team from the UK Coastguard was dispatched from Prestwick after the woman was assessed at the scene at around 1pm after suffering a fall.

Assistance from the Irish Coastguard was requested when the Prestwick team was diverted mid-operation towards a missing diver north of the western Scottish island of Jura.

The casualty was winched to the aircraft and flown to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine before the helicopter returned to Dublin Airport. Last night, the woman was in a stable condition. The rescue operation to bring her from the beauty spot to hospital lasted two-and-a-half hours.

In August, the Rescue 116 team assisted in two operations in the Mourne Mountains.

The first was to help a woman who had broken her leg, and the second was to evacuate more than 50 Army cadets from England who had become caught in bad weather.

In July, the Rescue 116 team was honoured with a major show of support when nearly 100 boats formed a cross-border flotilla in Carlingford Lough.

The tribute also saw wreaths laid in the water by representatives of those killed and a fly-past by another rescue helicopter.

Captain Mark Duffy's uncle, Terry Murray, was among those taking part in the flotilla.

He said at the time: "We are very impressed that so many people came out and offered their support.

"It is very heartening and it just brings home to you what these flight crews go through.

"It was great support and is much appreciated."

Belfast Telegraph

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