independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Family face week-long wait for return of Ian's body

THE body of mountaineer Ian McKeever is unlikely to be returned home for burial until the end of next week.

The 42-year-old died after being struck by lightning while climbing Africa's highest peak, Kilimanjaro, last Wednesday.

And it has emerged that a Dublin grandfather was lucky to escape with his life after being struck by the same lightning bolt which killed Mr McKeever.

Jack O'Donoghue (60) was in the Irish party of 24 climbers who set off to conquer Kilimanjaro on December 28 last, and hoped to raise €5,000 for the Children's Medical and Research Foundation.

He was one of four people injured during the freak accident. All were treated in hospital and have since been released.

"Several people were hurt when the storm hit," a friend said. "Jack was just a few feet from Ian and was left incapacitated when the lightning struck.

"Fortunately, there are doctors accompanying them on the trek and he received immediate medical attention. He is now physically fine, but naturally devastated over the loss of Ian."

A well-known charity fundraiser, Mr McKeever was from Roundwood in Wicklow and was engaged to be married to another member of the group, Anna O'Loughlin.

It is understood that she was also injured in the lightning strike, and was helped down the mountain by rescue teams before being transported to a local hospital in the town of Moshi for treatment.

The accident happened at 12.30pm on Wednesday, just as the group were preparing to stop for the day.

Difficult

Heavy rains had made climbing conditions difficult, but the group had been making steady progress.

Tributes continue to be paid to the record-breaking mountaineer on his company's Facebook page.

More than 800 people expressed their condolences to the founder of Kilimanjaro Achievers, describing him as an inspirational character. One said he had lived a "worthwhile, fulfilling, generous and incredible" life.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is offering assistance to the family and travelling party, some of whom are already on their way home.

The department is working with the family to arrange for Mr McKeever's remains to be repatriated next week.

Irish Independent

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