Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 14:53 UK

Super Puma's 16 crash victims remembered one year on

All 16 helicopter crash victims
All 16 men on board the Super Puma died one year ago

The 16 men who died when a Super Puma helicopter crashed into the North Sea have been remembered on the first anniversary of the tragedy.

All 14 passengers and two crew on board lost their lives on 1 April last year when the Bond helicopter came down.

Industry experts believe lessons learned have made offshore travel safer, but relatives want more answers.

Eight of the victims came from the north east of Scotland, seven from the rest of the UK, and one from Latvia.

A prayer service at the Kirk of St Nicholas in Aberdeen on Thursday afternoon was attended by hundreds of people.

The pain is still as raw as it was this time last year. We feel we no longer live, but just exist on a daily basis
Audrey Wood
Mother of Stuart Wood

The Reverend Andrew Jolly, chaplain for the UK oil and gas industry, told the congregation: "I don't doubt many of you have had a hard battle during the past 12 months and will continue to have a hard battle as questions and emotions run through your minds.

"We should feel compassion for you all until it hurts."

Oil giant BP said staff were also observing a silence, both on and offshore.

A monument inscribed with the names of all the men was recently erected in the city's Johnston Gardens to honour the victims.

The initial report into the crash had found that the aircraft suffered a "catastrophic gearbox failure", resulting in "detachment of the main rotor assembly".

Final report

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said: "It is anticipated that a final report will be published towards the end of 2010."

Bob Keiller, chairman of the industry's Helicopter Task Group which was set up after the crash, told BBC Scotland of the lessons: "We have looked at things that can prevent or reduce the risk of accidents.

Helicopter memorial in Aberdeen
A memorial monument has been erected in Aberdeen

"The helicopters have all been modified to make them safer."

He said training and personal locator beacon improvements collectively helped.

Audrey Wood, who lost her son Stuart Wood in the crash, said: "The year has been difficult but we have had great support from family and friends.

"We only had one son, but it appears that Stuart had one very big family, as in the oil industry they are all called 'brothers'.

"These brothers have written the most humble and sympathetic messages in a condolence book that was written."

Mrs Wood said: "The pain is still as raw as it was this time last year. We feel we no longer live, but just exist on a daily basis.

"Unfortunately we have no more information as to why or how the incident occurred and this is only one of the reasons we feel that we cannot move on.

"Hopefully when the outcome becomes more clear, we can maybe one day look at the future again."

'Huge void'

Verona Costello, whose son James Costello also died, said of the anniversary: "His passing has left a huge void.

"He is missed very much by everyone. But memories of him are cherished.

The Super Puma before it crashed [Pic: Gareth Falls]
The helicopter crashed into the North Sea last April

"Through all the support, my loss - although indescribably painful and devastating - has been made a bit more bearable."

The 16 men were called "heroes" at a memorial service last year.

The two crew who died were Captain Paul Burnham, 31, of Methlick, Aberdeenshire, and co-pilot Richard Menzies, 24, of Droitwich Spa, who worked for Bond Offshore Helicopters.

The KCA Deutag employees killed were Brian Barkley, 30, of Aberdeen; Vernon Elrick, 41, of Aberdeen; Leslie Taylor, 41, of Kintore, Aberdeenshire; Nairn Ferrier, 40, of Dundee; Gareth Hughes, 53, of Angus; David Rae, 63, of Dumfries; Raymond Doyle, 57, of Cumbernauld; James John Edwards, 33, of Liverpool; Nolan Goble, 34, of Norwich, and Mihails Zuravskis, 39, of Latvia.

The other victims were James Costello, 24, of Aberdeen, who was contracted to Production Services Network (PSN); Alex Dallas, 62, of Aberdeen, who worked for Sparrows Offshore Services; Warren Mitchell, 38, of Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, who worked for Weatherford UK; and Stuart Wood, 27, of Aberdeen, who worked for Expro North Sea Ltd.



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