Fatal helicopter crash accidental

Four crew members who died in a Royal Navy helicopter were killed accidentally, a jury has decided.

The Mark 3 Lynx helicopter, from RNAS Yeovilton, plunged into the sea off the Cornish coast in December 2004 during a search and rescue mission.

The crew were taking part in a training exercise when they received a "real" man-overboard report and were sent to search the waters.

The four bodies were later recovered from the wreckage on the seabed.

The jury at East Somerset Coroner's Court in Wells said the deaths were due to "an accident when Royal Navy Lynx helicopter XZ724 crashed into the sea at a high rate of descent".

Lt David Cole, 34, Lt Robert Dunn, 29, both from Dorset; Lt Jamie Mitchell, 29, from Dundee; and Leading Aircraft Engineering Mechanic (LAEM) Richard Darnell, 31, from Torquay, all died in the accident.

Post-mortem examination results showed Lt Cole, Lt Dunn and LAEM Darnell and Lt Mitchell all died from multiple injuries.

A board of inquiry (BOI) had investigated the incident with a separate probe launched by the Royal Navy Flight Safety and Accident Investigation Centre (RNFSAIC) but neither inquiry had reached a conclusion.

The hearing was told the Lynx helicopter had no black box or other recording equipment.

Cdr Nigel Amphlett, Lynx force commander, said: "We were all deeply saddened by the deaths in this tragic accident.

"We have lost four truly exceptional men.

"They will not be forgotten."