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Helicopter crash had ‘dreadful effect’ on survivors and families, inquiry told

Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle has closed the fatal accident inquiry into the incident off Shetland in August 2013.

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The wreckage of the Super Puma L2 helicopter which went down in the North Sea in August 2013 (Danny Lawson/PA)

The wreckage of the Super Puma L2 helicopter which went down in the North Sea in August 2013 (Danny Lawson/PA)

The wreckage of the Super Puma L2 helicopter which went down in the North Sea in August 2013 (Danny Lawson/PA)

A helicopter crash in the North Sea which left four people dead seven years ago has had a “dreadful effect” on the survivors and the victims’ families, an inquiry has heard.

Two crew members and 12 passengers on the Super Puma L2 survived when it ditched on its approach to Sumburgh Airport in Shetland at 6.17pm on August 23, 2013.

The accident claimed the lives of Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray; Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness; Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham; and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire.

Sheriff Principal Derek Pyle led the fatal accident inquiry (FAI), which began at the end of August and has been held virtually due to the pandemic.

He closed proceedings on Friday and his determination will be published in no more than four weeks.

Mr Pyle said: “It is of note we were originally looking at six weeks, then four weeks, and we have managed to do it in much less and that is a great credit to all of the legal teams of all the parties.

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Duncan Munro, George Allison, Gary McCrossan and Sarah Darnley were killed in the incident (Police Scotland/PA)

Duncan Munro, George Allison, Gary McCrossan and Sarah Darnley were killed in the incident (Police Scotland/PA)

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Duncan Munro, George Allison, Gary McCrossan and Sarah Darnley were killed in the incident (Police Scotland/PA)

“This was a dreadful accident and it’s obvious from the evidence that we’ve heard and indeed from other bits and pieces I’ve been told about the inquiry today that this has had a dreadful effect on the survivors and on the families and friends of the people who died.

“Particularly at this time when we are focusing worldwide on all sorts of problems, it brings you up short really and makes you realise the importance of inquiries like this in order to find out what happened and ensure these accidents do not recur in the future.

“I extend my personal sympathies to all the victims’ families and survivors for the effect this accident has had on them.”

Martin Richardson QC, who led the inquiry for the Crown, admitted the seven-year wait for those affected by the accident was “too long”.

In his final submission, he said: “The Crown does wish to apologise for the fact this investigation has taken the time it did.

“The Crown accepts seven years is a very, very long time for those who have been involved to wait for an inquiry to be held and that is particularly true for those who survived and the families of those who died.”

Mr Richardson added the role of the inquiry was not to search for fault, saying the Crown takes no issue with that, but suggested Mr Pyle should express it if fault was found.

PA