Helicopter crash pilot arrested at airport as he tried to leave country is released by gardai
A man who flew a helicopter that crash-landed next to a pub has been released without charge after being questioned on suspicion of endangerment.
The pilot, a British businessman in his 60s, was arrested by gardaí in Dublin Airport and taken to Longford Garda Station. He was questioned before being released without charge.
A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The dramatic moment the Gazelle helicopter plummeted to earth at the back of the Rustic Inn pub on the banks of the Royal Canal in Abbeyshrule, Co Longford, on Wednesday night, was captured on CCTV.
Locals said it was a miracle two men on board escaped with just cuts and bruises.
Schoolboy Ciaran Doyle (14), who witnessed the incident, was gardening with his father when they noticed the helicopter flying very low over head.
"It was hovering very low. It hit off the Rustic then flipped on to its side, and bits of it went off the side," Ciaran said.
"I called the emergency services as soon as I could. My hand was a bit shaky but I kept it together because I had to tell them what was going on and where it was.
"The emergency services were here quite promptly and they did a very good job, because the helicopter was leaking aviation fuel as well, so that was a hazard too. Everyone was very lucky."
It is understood that the pilot made a couple of attempts to land the helicopter on a narrow grass verge at the back of the pub at 9.15pm.
CCTV footage obtained from near the scene then shows the aircraft moving in sideways, but as it turned to face away from the pub it flipped on to its side.
The tail of the helicopter struck the building and caused noticeable structural damage, as pieces of debris landed in the water and surrounding areas. It also narrowly missed a man who had tried to move garden furniture for the landing.
The passenger was named locally as David Bruton, who is involved in the Abbeyshrule airfield. The pilot is said to have more than three decades of flying experience.
Gardaí, the Air Accident Investigation Unit and the Irish Aviation Authority are investigating.
"The issue of endangerment is being looked at in a big way here by gardaí. The pilot tried to land the helicopter in a very small, tiny, parcel of land and obviously it crashed into the back of a pub," a source explained.
"It is a miracle that no-one was killed or seriously injured."