Rescue 116

Adrian Tinniswood

I’m standing at the back door of the cottage, watching as a Coast Guard helicopter flies low and slow, tracing the line of Tullaghan Bay. Every now and then it pauses, hovering as the crew peer down at some shape or fragment below them. Then it moves off, the red and white of its fuselage gleaming in the afternoon sun.

I was in England when the first reports of the crash of Rescue 116 came in. A Sikorsky S-92A of the Irish Coast Guard had vanished in the early hours of 14 March with four crew members aboard, said the news announcer, on a routine mission in north Mayo. I was sorry – of course I was sorry – but in the way that these things have, the accident gained in significance because I knew the area. From high ground behind our cottage, you can make out the distant speck…

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