Coroner Darren Salter delivered his narrative verdict today at the inquest into the deaths of five servicemen who were killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Linda Strudwick and Polly Dyer from QEB Hollis Whiteman represented the family of the pilot of the Lynx Mk 9A helicopter, Capt. Thomas Clarke, together with Hilary Meredith Solicitors.
The family issued the following statement to the media:
“The tragic loss of Tom has left a hole in our lives which we will never be able to fill.
Words cannot do justice to how much he meant to his family, friends and colleagues. Tom left a positive, lasting impression on anyone who came into contact with him. His bravery, integrity and kindness were the mark of the man he was.
We recognised that his role in the Army Air Corps, as a helicopter pilot, could be dangerous, but he was always a consummate professional, whose flying and leadership skills were held in high regard by his peers and senior officers.
There are still significant question marks over how this accident happened. Expert opinion has differed quite widely so we will never be certain as to the cause. However, we accept that all that could be done to establish the cause has been done and therefore welcome the Coroner’s Regulation 28 Report adding weight to fitting military aircraft with flight data recorders to ensure lessons can be learned and future tragedies prevented. We thank all the relevant parties, the witnesses who have given evidence and particularly the other Lynx crew whose evidence must have been traumatic to relive. We thank the Coroner who has conducted a patient and thorough examination of the evidence available.
We would particularly like to thank our legal representatives and the Royal British Legion who undertook an enormous amount of work to support us through this process”.