Four Waterford heroes remembered 20 years on from sea tragedy

Justin Kelly

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Justin Kelly

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Four Waterford heroes remembered 20 years on from sea tragedy

Four Waterford heroes remembered 20 years on from sea tragedy

Tributes have been paid today, Tuesday, July 2, 20 years to the date since the deaths of four Irish Air Corps rescuers during a rescue off the coast of Waterford.

Shortly after midnight on July 2, 1999, Captain Dave O’Flaherty from Lucan in Dublin, Captain Michael Baker from Wexford, Sergeant Paddy Mooney from Meath and Corporal Niall Byrne from Dublin perished when their Irish Air Corps Dauphin helicopter, Rescue 111, crashed at Tramore beach, Waterford while returning from a successful rescue mission.

On the night, a 5-metre vessel had become lost in bad weather off Dungarvan, Co Waterford. The Irish Coast Guard launched the Helvick Inshore Lifeboat and tasked Rescue 111.

After successfully locating the vessel and guiding it and the lifeboat back to harbour, the crew turned for home. After two unsuccessful approaches to land in the poor weather, the crew opted for an approach from the coast. This was the last time they were heard from.

At approximately 1am on the same morning, the wreckage of the aircraft was located on Tramore beach. There were no survivors.

"Captain Dave O’Flaherty, Captain Michael Baker, Sergeant Paddy Mooney and Corporal Niall Byrne were lost doing their duty protecting the lives of others," the Irish Coast Guard said today.

Tramore Coast Guard Volunteer Unit said: "Four heroes perished after successfully completing a mission just off Dungarvan.
Go Mairidis Beo - 'That others may live.'"

The Irish Air Corps confirmed that a commemorative ceremony will take place on Tramore Seafront at 3pm on Tuesday to remember the crew of 'Rescue 111,' adding that "they paid the ultimate sacrifice."