28/10/2010

Mournes Helicopter Crash Injures Policemen

The Air Accident Investigation Branch has been informed after four PSNI officers were hurt today when a leased police helicopter involved in investigating a fatal weekend crash in the Mourne Mountains overturned.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Alistair Finlay said the helicopter was involved in a police clearance operation in connection with Saturday's crash.

It happened just after taking off but a police spokesperson said those on board were able to walk away from the wreckage and are not believed to be seriously injured at this stage.

However they have been taken to hospital for treatment. On board were a pilot, photographer, observer and an officer from the police emergency team.

It is understood the aircraft crashed near the site of the Saturday's tragedy when three men from southeast England, including a close friend of Prince Charles, died when their helicopter crashed near Hilltown.

Speaking about the incident involving a police helicopter this morning, Acting Chair of the NI Policing Board, Brian Rea said: "I have been spoken to the Chief Constable this morning about the accident involving a police helicopter in the Mourne Mountains and am relieved that none of the four police officers on board were seriously injured.
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"Police officers often have to work in difficult environments and this accident shows just how difficult those conditions can be as these officers were involved in a clear-up operation following Saturday's crash that sadly claimed the lives of three people.

"I wish all four officers a speedy recovery from any injuries they received in the accident," he said.

Also commenting,

South Down MLA Jim Wells has wished those injured in the helicopter accident a speedy recovery. Mr Wells, who was close to the scene at the time of today's crash said that the difficult terrain of the Mournes probably played a part in what happened.

"I was close to the scene of this latest incident involving a helicopter in the Mournes and everyone will be relieved that it appears no-one was seriously injured.

"The community in the area were deeply shocked at the tragic accident which occurred over the weekend and today's incident demonstrates the dangers which can be associated with this mode of transport.

"I understand it was a police helicopter involved in the accident today and these were four officers were injured as they carried out their duties.

"It would seem that difficult conditions in the Mournes may have played some role in the accident, and this also demonstrates the dedication of all the emergency and rescue services involved in the clear-up operation after the weekend," he said.

(BMcC/GK)

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