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Inquiry into Shetland helicopter crash which killed Highland man may start remotely in August

By Staff Reporter

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Gary McCrossan
Gary McCrossan

A fatal accident inquiry into a helicopter crash which killed four people including an Inverness man may start remotely at the end of August.

Oil rig worker Gary McCrossan (59) was among 18 passengers on board a Super Puma which crashed off Shetland in 2013.

The father-of-two, of Westhill, was a contractor for Stork Technical Services.

The other passengers who died were Sarah Darnley (45) of Elgin, Duncan Munro (46) of Bishop Auckland, and George Allison (57) of Winchester.

The inquiry was due to start in Inverness in May but was adjourned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Derek Pyle, Sheriff Principal of Grampian, Highland and Islands, has told a remote preliminary hearing that holding the inquiry in a virtual manner had not been an easy decision to reach but he hoped it could be done in a satisfactory manner.

It is hoped the inquiry will begin on August 31.

Sheriff Principal Pyle said that if that were the case, the inquiry would be completed by the end of September and he would issue his opinion the following month.

Lawyer Alan Rodgers said the relatives of Sarah Darnley would prefer a “traditional” fatal accident inquiry to take place and asked for their dismay to be registered about the decision to hold the inquiry virtually.

Advocate Depute Martin Richardson QC said that Covid-19 had disrupted preparation for the inquiry.

He added: “The Crown is confident that it is able to complete the work that needs to be done for the inquiry to go ahead.

“The Crown estimates that it would take three to four weeks to complete all the evidence in the inquiry.”

A 2016 report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch found that the helicopter’s flight instruments, which were being used to land due to cloud, were not monitored effectively, allowing it to enter "a critically low and unrecoverable energy state".

Attempts to recover were too late. The report also said the impact with the water had been "survivable".

Related: Probe is delayed

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