Fishermen had been warned not to go on lake
THE three friends who set off on a doomed Lough Ree fishing trip had been warned not to take to the water because of the treacherous weather.
Friends and colleagues last night paid tribute to one of the men, named locally as David Warnock (27), from Portadown, Co Armagh, who drowned on Thursday.
Meanwhile, hopes are fading for the safe return of father of three Daryl Burke (30), who is still missing.
The massive search was called off in failing light and poor weather last night. Searchers have conceded that it may now be a matter of recovering a body.
The alarm for the three men, who had travelled down from Co Armagh and were members of the Portadown Pikers fishing club, was raised on Thursday afternoon by local man David McEnroe. He was the last to speak to the men and warned them not to set out.
"I had asked them to hold on until the weather died off a little bit. They got the blue sky and they got a break in the weather and they went for it but the nature of the lake and the nature of the weather here is just treacherous," he said.
Mr McEnroe decided to call the RNLI when the boat was only about 300 metres out.
"I knew with the swell of water that was starting to come up again with the weather and the load that was in the boat and the water that was so close to the top of the boat – I knew it wasn't going to work for them."
An RNLI lifeboat discovered two men in the water, 300 metres apart, shortly after the alarm had been raised.
The third man, named locally as John Trimble (60), was conscious when rescued and was taken to the Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe. He is said to be critical but stable.
The second man, Mr Warnock, was said to be non-responsive when found and passed away overnight after he had been transferred to University Hospital Galway.
Mr Warnock, who was engaged and had one young child, had worked at a construction firm for the past eight years as a store supervisor.
An employee at the company last night told the Irish Independent: "Davey was a great lad, full of life and enthusiasm. He was passionate about his fishing and loved hockey . He is going to be sadly missed."
RNLI operations manager Damien Delaney told the Irish Independent the search would resume this morning.
Asked if it was now looking increasingly like a recovery operation, Mr Delaney conceded: "Slowly, it is beginning to look that way."