Mrs Noeleen Burke, who is in her 80s, lost her husband three years ago and with the loss of her sons and daughters-in-law recently, she has only one remaining daughter.
Kevin, 56, Donald, 55, and Barry 51 together with their wives were killed when their helicopter crashed in Snowdonia on Wednesday. The ill-fated Twin Squirrel red helicopter left the Burke’s Milton Keynes mansion heading to Dublin. The helicopter lost contact as it passed over North Wales, which was battered by gale force winds, heavy rain and had visibility of less than 10 metres in places because of low cloud. It crashed into the Rhinog Fawr mountains in Snowdonia near the giant Trawsfynydd lake reservoir on Wednesday afternoon.
The helicopter was being flown by Kevin who is said to be an experienced helicopter pilot and would have done anything to protect his family. All five passengers on board died, leaving six of the victims’ children without parents. The bodies of the victims are still at the crash site as at today after bad weather first hampered the hunt for the wreckage and is now preventing their remains being removed from the mountains.
“Six children have lost their parents in this tragedy. At this stage the family wants to be left alone to be able to deal with their grief over this terrible loss and concentrate upon looking after the children.”
A family friend spoke to the Irish Sun, saying that the family began to receive words that same afternoon that the plane had disappeared but they kept calm and hoped for the best. Sadly, that was not to be.
“The family were flying in to attend a confirmation for a niece and wanted to surprise her on the big day. They were due to arrive in for a party that evening,” the family friend said. “Then word started to filter through that something was wrong during the afternoon, but the family made every effort to keep their composure.”
Another told the Irish Herald:
“We were all a very close family. We’re absolutely devastated. They were coming to Dublin for a family confirmation. 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.”
A joint investigation led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) is now underway and a no-fly zone has been enforced. The helicopter is owned by Staske Construction Ltd, which is run by Mr and Mrs Burke, and they rent out the red aircraft and others they own to TV and film crews from a helipad in the grounds of their Buckinghamshire farmhouse. Their business has been running for 21 years. Kevin and his wife, Ruth, recently moved into their large farmhouse with their teenage son Jamie and their daughter jess, who is in her 20s.