Missing crewman from Rescue 116 helicopter crash is Dublin cyclist

Posted on: March 14th, 2017

Missing crewman from Rescue 116 helicopter crash is Dublin cyclist

Missing crewman from Rescue 116 helicopter crash is Dublin cyclist

Race Around Ireland rider Ciaran Smith is one of three crew members from the crashed Coast Guard Rescue 116 helicopter crash still missing at sea.


By Brian Canty

One of three crewmen missing from the Coast Guard’s Rescue 116 helicopter that crashed in the early hours of Tuesday morning is a Dublin cyclist.

Ciaran Smith has taken part as a solo rider in the Race Around Ireland three times. His first ride in the race was in 2013 when he became the first solo cyclist to finish the event.

He was a winchman on the downed Rescue 116 helicopter, one of four crew members on board.

The helicopter vanished at around 1am when off the coast of Co Mayo in the west of Ireland. It was providing back-up to another chopper on a rescue mission much further out to sea.

Information available so far suggests the downed Dublin-based helicopter did not send out any May Day call for help.

The exact circumstances of the tragedy are unclear but are under investigation. Debris, believed to be from the downed Rescue 116 helicopter, has been found in the water.

It was discovered about six miles off the coast. Rescue 116 had flown further out to sea but had turned back to land to refuel and vanished on that journey back.

It had earlier flown from its Dublin base to provide safety and communications cover to the other rescue helicopter.

The aircraft it was aiding had been called out to airlift an ill crewmember from a UK-registered ship about 150km off the coast.

The distance of that mission was so great a second helicopter was needed to support it.

One member of the crew from Rescue 116, pilot Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, was pulled from the sea about 7am. She was in critical condition but later died in hospital.

Ciaran, from Swords in north Dublin, is a well-known and highly-respected fitness enthusiast.

And 18 months ago he completed the 2,200 kilometre ultra-cycling event, Race Around Ireland, in 129 hours and 43 minutes.

It was an astonishing time that was good enough for sixth and was his third time in the race. In 2013 he became the first solo competitor to finish the event.

The 38-year-old wasn’t doing it for himself, instead using the opportunity to raise money for charity.

He raised almost €10,000 for Aoibheann’s Pink Tie. It was set up to provide financial and practical support to children and their families battling cancer in Ireland.

At the time of writing the search for Ciaran and his two missing colleagues had been called off for the night.

Coast Guard helicopters were assisting in the search with the Air Corps, RNLI boats, the Navy’s LE Róisín vessel, Garda divers and local fishing vessels.

While that search ended at 7.30pm it was expected to resume tomorrow at 7am.