Fears are growing for the safety of a local man who was part of the crew of the Irish Coastguard helicopter that went missing off the Mayo coast in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Chief Pilot Mark Duffy is one of three men who are still missing following the crash, along with winchmen Paul Ormsby and Ciáran Smith. Mark joined the Irish Coast Guard service over fifteen years ago and has been living in Blackrock with his wife and two children for a number of years. Mark, a hugely popular member of the Irish Coast Guards, was well known in the community of Blackrock and often visited local schools to explain the role of the Irish Coast Guard service to pupils.
James Larkin, officer in charge of the Irish Coast Guard at Greenore described Mark as ‘an absolute gentleman’ and said the whole crew in Greenore were devastated with the news that Mark was still missing.
“We worked with Mark here in Greenore many times and as recently as last weekend when he was on a rescue mission in Carlingford after a helicopter crashed. Nothing was ever a problem for him and he was an absolute gentleman. The whole team here in Greenore are absolutely devastated and we send on our condolences to Mark’s family and colleagues. We’re all praying that somehow there can be a happy ending to this story,” stated James.
Capt Dara Fitzpatrick was taken from the sea but pronounced dead on Tuesday afternoon, while a spokesperson stated that hopes were fading for the remaining three crew members.
In a strange twist of fate, the missing R116 helicopter was involved in the dramatic rescue operation following a helicopter crash in Carlingford on Sunday afternoon. That crash saw a father and son brought to hospital after their helicopter crashed in a garden in an area close to the Cooley mountains known locally as South Commons.