NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Sumburgh Super Puma crash: Fatal accident inquiry to be held

Sarah Darnley, Gary McCrossan, Duncan Munro and George Allison
Image caption Four people died in the 2013 crash

A fatal accident inquiry is to be held into a helicopter crash which killed four people near Shetland in 2013.

A total of 18 people were on board when the Super Puma crashed on its approach to Sumburgh.

Passengers Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin; Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness; Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland; and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, died.

No date for the inquiry has been announced.

There have been repeated calls for a fatal accident inquiry to be held into the crash, which took place on 23 August 2013.

Almost two years ago, the mother of victim Sarah Darnley said an inquiry should be held soon.

On Wednesday, the Crown Office said the investigation into the crash had reached "a significant stage".

Image caption There is a memorial to the victims in Shetland

It said: "Crown Counsel have instructed that a fatal accident inquiry be held into the deaths of Duncan Munro, Sarah Darnley, Gary McCrossan and George Allison, who were passengers being transported from North Sea oil and gas platforms to the mainland."

The Crown Office said the investigation had been "complex and challenging", and that it would continue to keep the victims' relatives informed of developments.

'See some answers'

Responding to the development revealed by the BBC Scotland news website, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott said: "It's taken too long but it's very important now that the families who lost loved ones do see some answers and receive closure on a terrible incident that happened all those years ago."

In 2016, a report said flight instruments were "not monitored effectively" by the pilots in the moments leading up to the crash.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said a lack of monitoring meant a reduction in air speed was not noticed by the pilots.

Attempts to recover were too late.

The report also said the impact with the water had been "survivable".

It said one of the four victims had been unable to escape, one was incapacitated by a head injury, one drowned before reaching the surface, and the other died in the life raft from a chronic heart condition.

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