Friday 20 September 2019

Service called out to recent fishing tragedies

THE SOUTH east coast has unfortunately had far more than its fair share of fishing tragedies in recent years, with the Waterford-based Coast Guard helicopter pivotal in the subsequent search operations.

Skipper Pat Colfer (37), from Slade, and Jimmy Meyler (46), from Ballyhack, died when the Rising Sun sank off the Saltee Islands on November 29, 2005.

Wexford man Ian Tierney survived the sinking of the boat and later recalled at the inquest how the last time he saw Mr Colfer was when the boat went over at 7 p.m.

Once in the water Mr Tierney helped Mr Meyler onto the upturned keel where they remained for four hours as the search for the three men, involving the Coast Guard helicopter, continued well into the night.

Both men remained in the water until they were picked up by a trawler at around 9.45 p.m. – a time when, under the new costsaving measures, the Coast Guard helicopter would not be operational to search or to transfer casualties swiftly to hospital.

Two days later, New Ross diver Billy O'Connor was lost during a dive on the wreckage of the Rising Sun as he attempted to recover the remains of Mr Colfer.

Skipper Glen Cott (30) and crewman Jan Sankowski ( 45) drowned when the Kilmore Quay-based trawler Maggie B foundered off Hook Head on March 30, 2006. Kristoph Pawtowski was the sole survivor.

On the evening of January 10, 2007, Duncormick's Patrick Coady (27) was one of five fishermen lost when the Pere Charles sank around two and a half miles south of Hook Head.

The fishing tragedy also claimed the lives of Thomas Hennessy (30), Pat Hennessy (48), Billy O'Connor (53) and Andriy Dyrin (32).

Patrick Coady was the third member of his family to be lost at sea. His father Stephen drowned in January 2006, while fishing off Cornwall, while his grandfather Paddy Coady, a lobster fisherman, drowned off Kilmore Quay in 1985.

The Kinsale based trawler, Honey Dew II, sank off Minehead in the early hours of the morning of January 11 during a bad storm, as it went to aid in the search operation for the fishermen from the Pere Charles.

Skipper Ger Bohan and crew member Tomas Yagla died. Two other crew members, Victor Losev and Vladimir Kostvr, both from Lithuania, survived.

There have been other major tragedies off the south coast, and counties Waterford and Cork, in recent years and countless more minor incidents which have seen the Coastguard helicopter tasked to aid in search and rescue operations.

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