Family's search for body parts 'beyond human endurance'
Published 25/04/2011 | 05:00
THE traumatised family of an Irishman who drowned in an Amsterdam has described "picking up bits" of his dismembered body from a canal as "beyond human endurance".
Paul Nolan-Miralles (36), a photographer and waiter, is believed to have drowned in the canal following a late night out on April 13.
The police search was called off last Wednesday -- even though a shoulder had already been found in the water which would later be confirmed, through DNA testing, to be his, and the shredded remains of his jacket and shoulder bag had been discovered in the propeller of a canal pleasure launch.
However, his family -- who had travelled from Dublin -- continued searching the canal late last week, and were faced with the grim task of plucking pieces of Mr Nolan-Miralles' body from the canal.
"It has been horrific, a nightmare so harrowing, and no family should have gone through this ordeal, left alone to suffer the trauma of pulling bits of my brother's body out of a canal," his sister Anne Ravanona, a Paris-based global management training expert, said yesterday.
Mr Nolan-Miralles' brother, Jaime, had to fish out body parts and organs. "Why has my family been subjected to this violation and trauma?" he asked.
It is thought that Mr Nolan-Miralles' body was sucked under the water and caught in the propeller of the glass topped canal boat.
His family and girlfriend had to endure the trauma and horror of recovering parts of their loved one without any psychological assistance until late last week. Eventually, they saw a trauma specialist on Friday evening.
On Thursday they recovered eight body parts using a boat driven by a client of Nolan-Miralles and sonar equipment operated by his cousin.
It was Thursday night -- following repeated requests by the family and through diplomatic channels -- that help was finally offered in the form of two "very supportive" family liaison officers.
At that stage, the family from Clonsilla in Dublin was "completely traumatised, devastated and living a nightmare for five days of the search", Ms Ravanona said yesterday.
On Good Friday, the district police precinct dispatched four divers into the canal.
A police female forensic officer -- described as "exemplary throughout" by the family -- borrowed a net from her local tennis club to trawl the canal and that was used by the divers.
However, just when the family thought things "could not get any worse", they found a large portion of Mr Nolan-Miralles' lower body floating in the water.
"My husband and my brother and cousin had to hold on to it for an hour awaiting the police boat dispatched to pick it up," Ms Ravanona said.
"Paul's girlfriend was there also. That was beyond human endurance."
Ms Ravanona added that these remains were moved from the canal side by the coroner and treated with care and respect before being taken to the morgue.
However, on Thursday, the family had to contact police each time they recovered body parts and they were subsequently taken away in a bucket and a box.
Now the family must wait for formal DNA tests to be completed on each recovered body part.
It could take weeks before the remains can be released and returned to Ireland for burial.
Flowers and messages of sympathy have been laid at the cordoned off access to the canal, the spot where he may have fallen, in front of The Hard Rock Cafe.
Mr Nolan-Miralles had lived in Amsterdam for 10 years.