Helicopter crash survivor said it sounded like it was "tearing itself to bits"

The survivor of a helicopter crash in which 4 people died told a Fatal Accident Inquiry board that it sounded like it was “tearing itself to bits”.

Helicopter crash survivor statement: Just before it plummeted into the sea, he said that strict survival training that he acquired while working in Norway was probably helpful during the incident.

Wireline operator Neil Ritchie, 39, was among 18 people on board the Super Puma L2 helicopter when it crashed on it’s approach to Sumburgh Airport. the accident occurred in the Shetland Isles at 18.17pm August 23rd 2013.

Sarah Darnley, 45, from Elgin, Moray, Gary McCrossan, 59, from Inverness, Duncan Munro, 46, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, and George Allison, 57, from Winchester, Hampshire, died in the accident.

The aircraft was returning from the Borgsten Dolphin support vessel at the time of the crash. Mr Ritchie, who was giving evidence on the third day of the inquest, said. ” he heard a loud bang and felt horrific vibration of the craft.”

He said he could see from the pilot’s face they were in trouble and braced himself for impact. Although there wasn’t time for a brace warning to be given.

He went on to say they hit the sea and instantly submerged. One minute you felt the impact and the next you were under water.

Mr Ritchie said that initially he had panicked but then his training kicked in. He found an air pocket before following another passenger out of a window.

He told the inquiry: “I saw the feet of somebody getting out a window and I thought that will do me, I’m going to try and see my family again.”


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