Updated: 31/03/17 : 04:48:41
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

national

Chopper crash leaves five family members dead

Five members of a family with strong Irish connections have died after their helicopter crashed in north Wales.

The helicopter was en route to Weston Airport in Dublin when radar contact was lost and it crashed amid poor visibility on Wednesday afternoon.

Three brothers who died in the helicopter tragedy were the sons of an Irish couple who emigrated to Britain.

Friends are "devastated" at the deaths of Milton Keynes-based construction millionaire Kevin Burke (57) and his businessmen brothers Barry and Donald.

Kevin's wife Ruth (49) and Donald's wife Sharon were also killed instantly when the private Twin Squirrel helicopter crashed into Rhinog mountain in the Snowdonia national park in north Wales.

The family group had been travelling to Dublin's Weston Airport to attend a family Confirmation.

Police, emergency services and air accident investigators on Thursday reached the site of the crash.

The recovery effort is ongoing but North Wales police said it may have to suspend operations overnight due to “worsening weather conditions and the difficult and treacherous terrain in the area”.

Kevin and Ruth Burke had an address at Brook Farm in Hulcolte, near Milton Keynes, from where the helicopter is thought to have taken off.

Relatives and friends of the Burke family in Killala, north Mayo expressed shock at the news, and described how Kevin and Ruth Burke had been expected to visit the west this weekend.

Locals said Kevin Burke and his brothers Barry and Donal were frequent visitors to Kilcummin in Killala Bay.

Their father Donal was from Kilcummin and emigrated with his Dublin-born wife Nolly to England, where he worked as a contractor.

The three brothers, and a sister who lives in the US, returned to Kilcummin for summer holidays as children, and maintained their Mayo links.

“They used to park the helicopter here locally,”one family friend said.






















                   The Twin Squirrel helicopter G-OHCP. was en route from UK to Ireland

Terrible loss


Members of the family were expected to stay in their parents’ house, now a holiday home, this weekend, neighbours said.

Mr Burke is reported to have owned the red Airbus Twin Squirrel helicopter through his company, Staske Construction Limited.

He is said to have been an experienced pilot who flew to Manchester on an almost daily basis.

A family spokesman said: “Six children have lost their parents in this tragedy. At this stage the family wants to be left alone to be able to deal with their grief over this terrible loss and concentrate upon looking after the children.”

Initial UK Coast Guard search efforts were concentrated on Caernarfon Bay, the area of the Irish Sea immediately south of Angelsea.

Sligo's Rescue helicopter R118 was on standby to assist in the search.

When no wreckage was sighted, the search switched to land and the wreckage and bodies were found on Thursday.