Remaining eight bodies are recovered Sunday from wreckage of North Sea helicopter crash



The sunken wreckage of Super Puma flight 85N gave up the last of its 16 dead yesterday.

Eight bodies were recovered and operations continued to raise the fuselage of the ill-fated helicopter from the seabed 14 miles off Peterhead.

Last night, investigators confirmed the “black box” cockpit recorder had been found. They hope it will help pinpoint the cause of the crash.

Two of the bodies found yesterday were those of Captain Paul Burnham, 31, and his co-pilot Richard Menzies, 24 – who barely had time to put out a Mayday call before disaster struck.

The dead were taken on board the Bibby Topaz salvage vessel.

The Super Puma was returning from BP’s Miller oil platform and was just 18 minutes from Aberdeen when it came down on Wednesday.

The speed at which the copter dropped from 200ft means it probably broke up on impact with the sea “like hitting concrete”.

Diving teams have been at the crash site since Saturday.

Grampian Police said: “As a result of the ongoing effort, the remaining eight victims have been recovered by divers on to a vessel at the scene. Families of all the victims have been informed of the current situation.

“We can reassure the families and friends of all the victims, and the wider public, that the detailed work to confirm all identities remains of the highest priority and is being pursued as quickly as possible.” Justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “The recovery of more bodies is sad but hopefully it can provide some little comfort and solace for grieving families.

“The emergency services have been working extremely hard and doing their absolute best to make sure all the bodies are recovered and identified as quickly as possible.” The bodies of Brian Barkley, 30, Aberdeen, James Edwards, 33, of Liverpool, Vernon Elrick, 41, of Stonehaven, and Mihails Zuravskis, 39, from Latvia, were identified on Saturday.

Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld, Nairn Ferrier, 40, of Dundee, Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, and Stuart Wood, 27, of Aberdeen, were identified on Friday.

With the two pilots among those found yesterday, it means Nolan Carl Goble, 34, Gareth Hughes, 53, David Rae, 63, Leslie Taylor, 41, James Costello, 24, and Alex Dallas, 62, are still to be identified.

A memorial service will be held at the Kirk of St Nicholas on Aberdeen’s Union Street a week on Wednesday.

Special seating arrangements are being made for the bereaved families and staff of the companies affected.


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