Five members of the Burke family were killed in Snowdonia
Tributes have been paid to the Irish family who died in a helicopter crash in North Wales last week. Five members of the Burke family – who had roots in Dublin and Mayo – were killed instantly when the private aircraft they were using went down.
They were travelling from Luton to Dublin for a family gathering when tragedy struck. Three brothers, Kevin – who was flying the helicopter – Donald and Barry were killed, as were Kevin’s wife, Ruth, and Donald’s wife, Sharon.
“We were all a very close family. We’re absolutely devastated. They were coming to Dublin for a family confirmation,” an Irish-based relative told The Herald. “Kevin was a very experienced pilot. He never took chances. He was an excellent pilot and he had a lot of flight hours and he never took risks.
“They only decided to come when they checked the weather, which was supposedly okay, but it doesn’t look like it was.
“We were all looking forward to seeing them. We’re all devastated. They were lovely people and they were very family orientated.
“We were all very close. Kevin was generous and loving. They were all generous and loving people.”
Kevin and Ruth ran the Milton Keynes-based construction firm Staske Ltd and they were using the company helicopter. It is believed that he was attempting to descend to avoid bad weather when they crashed into the Rhinog Mountains in Snowdonia. The police used mobile phone triangulation data to focus their search effort on a remote mountainous area after it was switched from Caernarfon Bay.
Seven mountain rescue teams, as well as specialist dog search teams, examined the Rhinog area before the wreckage was found. All five bodies were located by or within the wreckage.
Posting on Instagram, model Danielle Lloyd said: “Such sad news about Ruth and Kevin Burke. They were two of the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege to meet and my thoughts and prayers are with all the family.”
Another friend added on social media: “Rest in peace Kevin & Ruth Burke. You taught me a lot in business, especially in my earlier days. Thank you for everything, you will be missed by so many people, especially your family. Take care up there.”
A spokesman for the family said that six children had lost their parents in this accident. He added that the family wishes to be left alone at present to deal with their grief and concentrate on looking after the children.
Bedfordshire Councillors Sue Clark and Ken Matthews said: “We were deeply shocked and saddened to hear the news of the untimely deaths of Ruth and Kevin Burke, who lived in our local area.
“Kevin was not only our constituent but also a colleague, having previously been a Parish Councillor who was clearly very committed to his community.
“At this tragic time our thoughts are with their family and friends, to whom we send our sincere condolences.”
Kevin and Ruth have been survived by their two teenage children, while Donald and Sharon are survived by their son and twin daughters. Barry is survived by his partner and one son.
North Wales Police are appealing to anyone who was in the Rhinog Mountains area of Snowdonia between 12 noon and 1pm on Wednesday 29th March and may have heard or seen the helicopter to contact them via the live web chat or by phoning 101.