The head of the Air Corps has said the investigation into the helicopter crash which claimed the lives of four of its personnel last week could take months to complete. Brigidier General Pat Cranfield said the men who died will never be forgotten. He was speaking at a special commemorative service for the men in Tramore which was attended by more than 600 people. The loss of life was the worst single disaster in the history of the Air Corps.
Today's commemorative service was only organised in the past few days, yet hundreds came across Tramore beach to the sand dunes where Captains Dave O'Flaherty and Mick Baker, Sergeant Paddy Mooney and Corporal Niall Byrne lost their lives eight days ago. Prayers were said at the exact spot where the men died when their Dauphin helicopter burst into flames at a high sand dune just 200 yards from the beach at Tramore. The service was organised by the Franciscan brothers in Waterford, and was attended by search and rescue teams from all over the country. They were joined by relatives of the four men who died. After the last post was played, there was also a fly-over by three helicopters, including two Air/Sea Rescue Sikorskys and the Aloutte now back in Waterford.
The head of the Air Corps, Brigadier General Pat Cranfield, told those who had gathered that the Air Corps will continue to be involved in Search and Rescue missions. He said that the Alouette helicopter, originally based at Waterford Regional Airport before the Dauphin arrived, has now returned to partake in daytime rescue missions if required.
The investigation into the cause of the accident is continuing, but air accident investigators have completed their work at the scene and the crash site has now been covered over with sand. A wooden cross with flowers at its base marks the spot where the helicopter went down.