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Thursday 21 August 2014

Girlfriend's rescue efforts in vain as Dubliner drowns after Sydney fall

Published 26/05/2014 | 02:30

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Irishman Brendan Hickey pictured here with Julia Szymanska - he drowned in Sydney's Harbour
Irishman Brendan Hickey with girlfriend Julia
Shocked onlookers on the shore as a search is carried out for Brendan Hickey
Shocked onlookers on the shore as a search is carried out for Brendan Hickey

AN investigation has been launched into the circumstances in which an Irishman drowned in Sydney's Darling Harbour.

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Brendan Hickey (34) from Dublin was at the Vivid Festival watching a lightshow on Friday when he fell into the water at around 11pm and drowned.

Last night, New South Wales police told the Irish Independent a team from the rescue unit and an ambulance helicopter had searched the harbour extensively following reports someone had fallen in. They found the young man's body at around 1.30am on Saturday.

Prior to the incident, Mr Hickey had been socialising with a group of friends and his Polish girlfriend, Julia Szymanska, at the waterfront.

After the Dubliner fell into the water, Julia and a friend jumped in after him but their efforts to save him were in vain. Both managed to get out of the water.

Mr Hickey – who is understood to have been from Glasnevin – had been living in Australia for over a year, where he worked as an electrician and was based in Randwick, a suburb with a large Irish community.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, the Mayor of Randwick, Scott Nash, described the death as "tragic" and extended his sympathies to Mr Hickey's family.

"Our community is in shock and everyone is looking for answers. We'll await the outcome of the investigation and I hope we'll know more soon," he said.

Mr Hickey's brother Shane is also living in Sydney and paid tribute to him online shortly after his death, posting a picture of himself and his late brother on his Facebook page. Many others took to social media to express their grief with several describing Mr Hickey as "an absolute gentleman".

One friend wrote: "I cannot believe this sad news. Brendan Hickey (was) very happy, ever smiling, gone too soon. I will always live to remember you."

Investigation

It is understood the Irish embassy has been in touch with Mr Hickey's family. A full investigation is being launched by the Marine Area Command to determine how the young man fell into the water and a file is being prepared for the coroner.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the department was offering consulate assistance through the Irish embassy in Canberra and the Consulate General in Sydney.

Mr Hickey's death is the second to occur in the Cockle bay area in recent years. A 19-year-old man drowned in the same bay in 2012.

Irish Independent

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