By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — One of Ireland’s most famous rally drivers, Bertie Fisher, died on Monday from the injuries he received in a helicopter crash in which his son and daughter were both killed. Fisher’s wife, Gladys, and another son were also injured in the crash, which occured Sunday at Monea, just seven miles from the family home in Ballinamallard, Co. Fermanagh.
Fisher was believed to have been piloting the helicopter to his home following a short stay in the West of Ireland to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday when the accident happened. His son Mark, 27, also a top rally driver, and daughter Emma, 25, died at the scene. Gladys Fisher remains in a critical condition in hospital, while Roy Fisher, 23, is in a stable condition.
Fisher used the helicopter regularly for both business and rallying engagements, and although he had planned to cut back on competing to concentrate on his engineering firm, he was due to compete in the Circuit of Ireland later this year.
The rally driving champion and his family were flying home from a weekend at Ashford Castle in County Mayo when the helicopter experienced some difficulties before crashing in a wooded area of the Fermanagh countryside close to Enniskillen.
A three-time winner of the Circuit of Ireland, to add to successes in the Killarney Rally of the Lakes and the Irish International Rally, Fisher also won four Tarmac championships between 1990 and 1996.
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One of his longtime rivals Austin McHale said: "I’m absolutely devastated. Mark had such a bright future and Bertie was simply one of the best competitors Ireland has ever known. He’s been a complete gentleman throughout the 20 years we’ve been competing. It’s hard to take in."
Fisher’s company, Fisher Engineering Ltd. of Ballinamallard, Co. Fermanagh, employs 180 people. The RUC in Enniskillen said the investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing.