Shetland helicopter victims return to mainland

Dive Vessel Bibby Polaris, that was involved in the salvage of the helicopter that plunged into the North Sea. Picture: PA

Dive Vessel Bibby Polaris, that was involved in the salvage of the helicopter that plunged into the North Sea. Picture: PA

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THE bodies of three of the victims of the Sumburgh Head helicopter disaster arrived in Aberdeen shortly after dawn broke yesterday, on board the NorthLink passenger ferry Hjaltland.

The remains of the three passengers were later taken under police escort to the Aberdeen City Mortuary of Police Scotland.

The busy oil port fell silent as the private hearse, containing the bodies, was slowly driven through the harbour area on its poignant journey.

The body of the fourth victim – believed to be that of Sarah Darnley, the first woman to be killed in the history of Britain’s oil and gas industry – is expected arrive in Aberdeen this morning, on the overnight ferry from Shetland.

The last body was recovered on Sunday night from the wreckage of the Super Puma AS332 L2 after it was raised on to the deck of the salvage vessel Bibby Polaris.

Those who died were Ms Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester.

Shortly after the three bodies had been taken ashore, the UK Oil and Gas Chaplaincy announced that it had opened a book of condolence for all those who wished to pay tribute to the four workers who lost their lives in the tragedy.

It will be available to sign in the Oil Chapel in the Kirk of St Nicholas Uniting, Union Street, Aberdeen, every day between 10am and 4pm. The Rev Gordon Craig, the oil and gas industry chaplain, said: “The Oil Chapel has special significance for the oil and gas industry and has in the past been the natural focus point for its members and the people of Aberdeen to demonstrate their care for families affected by tragedy.”

Speaking after he had signed the book of condolence, First Minister Alex Salmond said the thoughts and prayers of everyone in Scotland would be with the bereaved families.

The book of condolence has also been opened online, at www.ukoilandgaschaplaincy.com.

The family of Mr McCrossan yesterday paid tribute to the fun, loving grandfather who worked for Stork Technical Services.

In a statement, released by Police Scotland, his family said: “A deep void has been left in our lives. He was a fun, loving guy who was full of life, a great storyteller – who always kept you guessing.

“Gary left a piece of himself in everyone he encountered and will be greatly missed. We walk each day in his honour.”

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