Published: Wed, March 15, 2017
Global | By Doris Richards

Tributes pour in for hero coast guard Captain Dara Fitzpatrick

Tributes pour in for hero coast guard Captain Dara Fitzpatrick

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick was the only member of a crew of four to be recovered from the sea so far.

One crew member of the missing helicopter has been found and is in a critical condition.

The coast guard has announced that Dara Fitzpatrick has sadly died this afternoon.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins said it was a "dark day" for the Irish Coast Guard while Search and Rescue Manager Gerard O'Flynn praised the "Trojan work" of the services.

A spokesman for the service confirmed that they lost contact with the rescue chopper at approximately 1am.

An intense search is continuing around six miles (10km) west of Blacksod, Co Mayo, where the Dublin-based Sikorsky S92 disappeared after providing cover for another helicopter involved in an early-morning rescue operation.

News outlet The Irish Times reports that the helicopter was dispatched from its Dublin base at around 22:00 hrs to respond to a call from a fishing vessel regarding an injured crew member.

The Sligo-based helicopter had been responding to a distress call from a United Kingdom fishing vessel that needed medical attention.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross said: "Today is one of the darkest days suffered by our fearless, committed emergency services".

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A native of Dublin, Capt Fitzpatrick had more than 20 years' experience piloting helicopters. Searches are ongoing for other crew-members.

Earlier: A search operation is underway for a coastguard helicopter missing off the west coast.

Lifeboats and fishing vessels are also involved.

The Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross has expressed concern for the missing crew and their families.

"This is an extremely hard time for all concerned", he added.

"Once again, I send my utmost support to all those affected", he added.

There are still no clues as to what happened to the helicopter and a full investigation will be launched into the incident.

Search and rescue expert David Mearns said the twin-engine helicopter involved is used all around the world.

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