Friday 22 November 2019

Family of tragic pilot Dara 'moved' at support for charity run

Participants running in the 5km Dara Fitzpatrick Memorial Run at Waterford Airport runway last year
Participants running in the 5km Dara Fitzpatrick Memorial Run at Waterford Airport runway last year

Emergency services colleagues and those who Irish Coast Guard rescue pilot Captain Dara Fitzpatrick helped save will gather for a third memorial charity run in her honour.

The Dara Fitzpatrick Run will be staged at Waterford Airport runway at 10am on September 14 - and this year, participants will receive a special medal bearing the image of a Sikorsky S92 helicopter and the logo 'Rescue 116'.

The event aims to raise funds for charities Dara admired as well as to pay tribute to the helicopter pilot who died along with her three crew in the Rescue 116 tragedy in March 2017.

Four Irish Coast Guard crew - Captain Fitzpatrick, Captain Mark Duffy, Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith - died when the Rescue 116, crashed into the sea off the Mayo coast, having apparently clipped Black Rock Island in the early hours of March 14, 2017.


The Fitzpatrick family said they are deeply moved by the support the Waterford Airport run has attracted.

Dara Fitzpatrick
Dara Fitzpatrick

Capt Fitzpatrick's sister, Niamh Fitzpatrick, said it is a wonderful event in aid of great causes.

"A big thank you from the Fitzpatrick family to all involved in producing such a unique finisher's medal - we're very grateful," she said. The special medals this year also feature four doves.

Staged over a 5km course marked out on the runway, the memorial event was an enormous success at its 2017 launch, with the organisers expecting an even bigger attendance this year.

Organiser Ray Leahy said the venue was particularly fitting given how many lives Dara had helped save when she previously operated as a Coast Guard pilot from the Waterford Airport base with Rescue 117.

"The success of the event is due to the commitment, dedication and kindness of our volunteers, sponsors and supporters," he said.

The charities to benefit this year are Waterford Hospice and the Search and Rescue Dog Association.


An Air Accident Investigation Unit inquiry has confirmed the Mayo island was not displayed on the special ground avoidance navigation system on board the US-built chopper.

The bodies of Paul Ormsby and Ciaran Smith were never recovered.

In late 2018, a life jacket and a helmet from Rescue 116 was recovered by a fisherman.

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