Coast Guard member dies but two colleagues rescued after boat capsizes
A FEMALE member of the coast guard has passed away after being thrown into the sea during a search-and-rescue operation.
The woman in her 40s was removed from the water by a rescue team from the Doolin Coast Guard after the boat she was in capsized.
She was taken to hospital, but pronounced dead this afternoon.
“This is a black day for us. These are volunteers who risk their lives everyday to save others. This woman was a hero,” one lifeguard member said.
Two other members of the coast guard were also dislodged from the boat which was taking part in a search off the Clare coast for a missing local man.
Another woman in her 50s was rescued from the water and brought to University Hospital Limerick (UHL) where she is in a stable condition.
A male colleague also in his 40s, the coxswain of the unit, was trapped in a cave area for a number of hours before being rescued this evening. He is said to be doing well, after earlier cliff and cave rescues were hampered by rough seas and strong winds.
It is understood rescue teams were attempting to remove a boat blocking access to the cliffs and others were attempting to use ropes to come down the cliffs.
He was rescued this evening by the Shannon Rescue 115 helicopter at approximately 5.30pm and has been airlifted to UHL.
Manuel Dilucia, founder of the Kilkee Marine Rescue, told Independent.ie earlier: "He is in there, been there for approximately four hours.
Rescue operation under way in Kilkee - coast guard member in cave at base of cliff pic.twitter.com/YiQqMYJ32b— Timmy Dooley TD (@timmydooley) September 12, 2016
"He is sitting on a ledge waiting to be saved"
The incident happened off the coast of Kilkee in Co. Clare. The crew from Kilkee Marine Rescue were taking part in the third day of a search-and-rescue for a man missing from the local area for a number of deays.
Their rigid inflatable boat (RIB) overturned shortly after 1pm when it hit a heavy swell near the cliffs at Kilkee.
A spokesperson for the Irish Coast Guard told RTÉ that they became aware of the incident shortly after midday today after Valentia Island Coast Guard office was contacted with a mayday call.
Doolin Coast Guard, the RNLI and the Lahinch Surf Rescue Team and divers were all involved in the final rescue.
Pat Breen, TD for Clare and a junior minister, expressed his condolences following the tragedy.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the coastguard crew and their families who were involved in this dreadful incident this afternoon in Kilkee," he said.
Speaking on RTÉ's Six One, Declan Geoghegan, Operations Manager with the Irish Coast Guard said there will be an inquiry into what happened.
Geoghegan said he didn't know"whether it was a heavy swell or a rogue wave, we are unsure. They obviously got thrown into the water and unfortunately we lost a colleague. Our other colleagues have been rescued."
He also confirmed that the members involved were local volunteers who had trained in Kilkee.
More to follow