RNLI opens book of condolence for Irish Coast Guard crew

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, who was on board the Irish Coast Guard helicopter that entered the sea off Mayo. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, who was on board the Irish Coast Guard helicopter that entered the sea off Mayo. Niall Carson/PA Wire

A book of condolence in memory of the Irish Coast Guard rescue crew whose helicopter crashed off the coast of Co Mayo has been opened by Newcastle RNLI.

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, 45, was pulled from the water in a critically ill condition around six miles west of Blacksod and later confirmed dead.

Three other crew members – chief pilot Mark Duffy from Dundalk and winchmen Ciaran Smith and Paul Ormsby from Co Dublin – are still missing.

Mystery still surrounds how the Sikorsky S92 lost radio contact without warning at around 12.45am and entered the water.

The book of condolence was opened last night at Newcastle lifeboat station in Co Down.

A spokesman for the RNLI said it will be “available for anyone wishing to send their sympathies to the family and colleagues of the brave crew of the Irish Coast Guard’s Rescue 116.”

It will remain open in the coming days from 10am-1pm and between 6.30pm and 9.30pm.

The spokesman added: “In the wake of the helicopter tragedy involving our friends and colleagues from Dublin, the flag at Newcastle RNLI station flies at half-mast as a mark of respect and solidarity.

“The thoughts of everyone in the RNLI are with our colleagues in the Irish Coast Guard, who we have worked closely with many times and in particular with the co-workers, family and friends of the crew of Dublin’s Rescue 116.”

The discovery yesterday of a black box signal has been described as “significant” by rescue workers.

As a second day of searching was coming to a close last night hopes of finding any of the other crew members alive had all but faded.

However, it is hoped the signal from the black box recorder could lead investigators to the main body of the stricken aircraft – which has not yet been located – and could contain vital clues as to what happened to the final moments of its doomed mission.