Updated: 15/03/17 : 05:14:03
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Sligo heroism of crash chopper winchman recalled

THE SLIGO heroism was recalled last night of a missing crew member on the Coastguard chopper which crashed off Mayo.

Ciarán Smith was a winchman on the ill-fated Rescue 116  helicopter, a Sikorsky, which disappeared without any mayday distress alert.

Now aged in his late 30s, the winch was involved in a dramatic rescue off the Sligo coast fourteen years ago.

Yesterday morning, Smith was aboard Rescue 116 from Dublin as it operated in support of the Sligo based 118 Coastguard off the Mayo coast.

First Fatality

Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, a pilot of 20 years with a three-year-old son, was the first fatality named yesterday after the chopper was lost. See link below

She had been airlifted from the sea and taken to Mayo General Hospital but pronounced dead later.

The search resumes at first light this morning, Wednesday, for her three missing crew colleagues.

These were named last night as: Ciarán Smith, Paul Ormsby, both winchmen and another pilot, Mark Duffy.

Stranded Crew

Smith is a former corporal and winchman with the Air Corps from Oldtown in north Co Dublin.

He has worked with rescue teams for over 15 years, including one Sligo incident.

In 2003, Smith lowered on to the deck of a sinking trawler off the coast of Co Sligo.

He remained with its three stranded crew members for half an hour before they could be moved to safety.

He was also awarded a Marine Bronze Medal for Meritorious Service in 2004 for his part in the rescue of a man off the coast of Co Antrim the previous year. 

The bravery demonstrated by himself and his fellow Air Corps crew members was also recognised in a ministerial letter.

Smith's wife Martina and three young children travelled to the site of the search and rescue mission in Blacksod,

Link: Sligo Today 14/3/2017

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