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BBC NI's Tara Mills reports
"Friends came to the hospital to offer their condolences to the family"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 00:08 GMT
Rally driver killed in crash
The helicopter went down in woodland
The helicopter went down in woodland
Leading Northern Ireland rally driver Bertie Fisher and two of his children have been killed in a helicopter crash.

An inquiry is under way into the accident, which also left his wife critically injured.

Bertie Fisher was flying his family back home after a birthday celebration in County Mayo, in the Irish Republic.

The helicopter came down in woodland at Monea, seven miles outside the town of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, on Sunday afternoon.

Mr Fisher's 25-year-old daughter, Emma, and son Mark, 27, were both pronounced dead at the scene. Mr Fisher himself was pronounced dead several hours later.

The news of Mr Fisher's death stunned the group of about 100 friends and family members who had gathered to keep a vigil.

James Henderson, secretary of Fisher Engineering, the business run by the racing driver, said there was "a mood of tremendous sorrow".

"The family are very distressed, they have had very little sleep since the incident," he said.

Mark was following in his father's footsteps and had signed a contract to drive for Peugeot UK in 2001 less than a week before the accident.

Bertie Fisher
Bertie Fisher: "A household name"
An army Puma helicopter brought medical staff from the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen to the crash site and flew Mr Fisher and his wife, Gladys, there for treatment.

Mrs Fisher was later transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. But Mr Fisher is said to have sustained multiple injuries.

The Fishers' other son, Roy, who was also on board the helicopter, is said to be in a stable condition in the Royal.

The accident happened a short distance from the Fisher family home in Gublusk, as they were nearing the end of their flight from Ashford Castle in Mayo.

Police first received reports of the crash about 1520 GMT on Sunday after being alerted by people living in the area, and air traffic control personnel at St Angelo Airport in Enniskillen.

RUC superintendent Eddie Graham described Mr Fisher, a successful and popular rally driver, as an accomplished pilot.

He added: "Our hearts go out to the wider Fisher family.

"I know that they are so well known and really, really well regarded."

Austin Frazer:  Shocked at news
Austin Frazer: Shocked at news
Austin Frazer , Mr Fisher's former co-driver, said: "Everybody is just devastated at the news.

"It is such a sad time for the Fisher family, their relatives and the many, many friends they have."

Sam Foster, Northern Ireland environment minister, who knows the Fisher family, said: "The family is well known and respected amongst the Fermanagh community.

"I am devastated and would like to express from the people of Fermanagh/South Tyrone my sincere sympathy to the family. My heart goes out to them."

Sports Minister Michael McGimpsey also spoke of his shock at the incident.

"Bertie is a household name, particularly in rallying and sporting circles, but I am also aware of the high esteem in which the Fisher family is held in the Fermanagh area.

"It was particularly tragic that such an accident occurred following what was a happy family occasion."

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22 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Tributes paid to Mark Fisher
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