A preliminary inquest hearing into the deaths of the four Irish Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter crew opened earlier today in Belmullet and has been adjourned.

The inquests into the deaths of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, and winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith were due to open in Belmullet in early March, but were postponed due to bad weather conditions.

The four crew members died when their Coast Guard helicopter crashed at Blackrock island, off the north Mayo coast, in the early hours of March 14th last year.

At today’s inquest, it was confirmed that Captain Dara Fitzpatrick died by drowning in the early hours of 14th March 2017, prior to arriving at Mayo University Hospital.

The body of Captain Mark Duffy was found 12 days later, still in the helicopter, and he died from multiple injuries sustained in the crash.

The bodies of Mr Ormsby and Mr Smith have not been recovered, in spite of extensive air, sea and shore searches, but at today’s inquest, they were officially declared dead, with cause of death “lost at sea”.

The coroner for north Mayo Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald adjourned the inquests to allow investigations by the Gardai and the Health & Safety Authority to continue, while a separate investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Unit is also continuing.

 

 

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