Families of tragic helicopter accident facing big legal bills
Winch operator Paul Ormsby tragically died in the helicopter R116 crash

Families of tragic helicopter accident facing big legal bills

FAMILIES of the tragic helicopter R116, which crashed off the coast of Mayo in 2017, are facing significant legal bills arising out of a Department of Transport review of the accident.

Pilot Dara Fitzpatrick, co-pilot Mark Duffy and winchman Ciarán Smith along with winch operator Paul Ormsby from Ballyfermot lost their lives when their search and rescue helicopter crashed into Blackrock Island in March 2017.

The families hired legal teams to represent the interests of the deceased crew during hearings of a Review Board, which was established last year by then-Transport Minister Shane Ross.

A report by RTÉ Investigates revealed the families of Ms Fitzpatrick, Mr Duffy and Mr Smith, hired legal counsel to represent the deceased trio at the Review Board hearings, as they were concerned attempts could be made during the review to attach blame for the accident to any of the deceased crew.

The Board was tasked with re-examining certain conclusions and findings of an Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) draft report on the accident that had been challenged by helicopter operator CHC Ireland.

The Department of Transport strongly opposed applications to the Review Board by the families’ legal teams to have their costs covered, angering several family members of the deceased.

RTÉ Investigates understands that the families’ final legal costs have not yet been calculated, but legal sources said that the fees for such a lengthy inquiry dealing with such a highly technical subject could run into hundreds of thousands of euro.

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