Super Puma crash: Remembrance service for victims

Sarah Darnley, from Elgin, died in the North Sea helicopter tragedy. Picture: PA
Sarah Darnley, from Elgin, died in the North Sea helicopter tragedy. Picture: PA
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VICTIMS of the recent North Sea helicopter crash have been remembered at a church ­service.

Representatives from the oil and gas industry joined relatives and friends at a ceremony in Aberdeen city centre yesterday afternoon.

Four oil workers died when their Super Puma helicopter plunged into the sea off Shetland on 23 August.

Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland in County Durham, and George Allison , 57, from Winchester, Hampshire, were killed as they returned from the Borgsten Dolphin support vessel.

The crash en route to Sumburgh Airport on the south of the island also claimed the lives of Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, and Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray.

They were remembered during a 50-minute gathering at St Nicholas Kirk led by Reverend Gordon Craig.

A kirk official said the church was “well-filled” for the service, an annual ceremony which this year saw the introduction of a new Book of Remembrance to mark the 25th anniversary year of the Piper Alpha disaster.

Three other oil industry workers who died in the last 12 months were also remembered.

An investigation into the crash, which led to a temporary halt in flights and called into question the safety record of several Super Puma variants used in the North Sea, is continuing. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch said it had found no evidence of technical failure in the helicopter, which was carrying 16 passengers and two crew.

Survivor James Nugent has demanded answers surrounding the crash which has halted his offshore career.

The 41-year-old, who lives in Newquay, suffered a spinal injury. He said on Friday: “There is obviously a need to fully understand what happened in this awful incident.

“It was so tragic and simply no-one deserves to die whilst being transported home from work. Like myself, we all just wanted to get home to our families after a long time working offshore.

“The accident has destroyed my short-lived career offshore and the same for others that were also in the accident.

“I just want answers over what has happened and for someone to take responsibility for the fact that 16 passengers and two pilots were in a horrific aviation accident that should never have happened.’’

Nugent described to the BBC the moment he heard a huge bang and the helicopter began to spin out of control.

He said: “Four seconds later, we were crashing into the sea. We entered the water and the next thing I knew we were filling up with water.”

Mr Nugent managed to get onto a life-raft but others were swept away.

He said: “We tried to get the guys that had floated away onto the second life-raft, but there was too much current going in the opposite direction, it pulled us away from the guys that needed the rescue.”

He said people should be aware of the dangers that come with working offshore.

“It is a dangerous place to work. It’s a dangerous job that is getting carried out in the North Sea.

“It should not be dangerous to travel to and from work.”