Incident involving Coast Guard SAR Helicopter off West Coast of Ireland
Statement by RNLI Lifesaving Manager Gareth Morrison
Shortly after 1am this morning both Achill and Ballyglass RNLI all-weather lifeboats were requested to launch to a report of missing Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 116, off the Mayo coast.
Both Rescue 116, which operates out of Dublin and the Sligo based helicopter, Rescue 118 were involved in a long-range mission to a fishing vessel with an injured crewmember. Rescue 116 was due to refuel at Blacksod but before this could take place, contact was lost with the helicopter crew. An immediate and full scale search was launched.
During the course of that search RNLI lifeboat crew at Achill recovered a casualty from the water who has now sadly been confirmed as deceased and named by the Coast Guard as Captain Dara Fitzpatrick. At this time the RNLI’s two lifeboats in Mayo are continuing to search along with the Irish Coast Guard, Irish Air Corps, Irish Navy, Garda divers and local vessels.
As we await further news we find ourselves again dealing with a loss in our community. We once again stand shoulder to shoulder with our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI flag at our headquarters in Dublin is being flown at half-mast.
RNLI lifeboats work hand in hand with Irish Coast Guard helicopters; their presence providing an additional asset to work alongside our volunteers and offering much needed cover and support in the most challenging of callouts. The crews train alongside each other year-round and share valuable knowledge and experience, which have undoubtedly saved many lives.
The thoughts of everyone in the RNLI are with our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard and in particular with the colleagues, family and friends of the crew of Rescue 116. We would ask you again to lower your station flag as a mark of respect and in solidarity with our colleagues.
We are in regular contact with the Irish Coast Guard and have offered them every support at this time.
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland