A LOYAL dog stayed by the side of a young man who died after he slipped and hit his head while walking on a beach.
Jake O'Neill (22) was with the family dog, Hippy, when he slipped and fell on Lady's Cove beach at Dunmore East, Co Waterford, suffering fatal injuries.
He was discovered by passers-by at about 5pm on Sunday after they were alerted by the dog's barking.
Emergency services rushed to the scene where they tried to resuscitate Jake, but he was pronounced dead and removed to Waterford General Hospital.
"The dog stayed with him until somebody happened to walk down to the beach," said his father Mark.
He described his son as "an absolutely super young fella" who would be missed by his mother Sarah, brother Ivan and many friends.
He told the Irish Independent that he did not think the accident was related to the weather, as the cove was well sheltered from wind and waves.
"He just slipped on the rocks and hit his head.
"You don't expect your son to go out for a walk with the dog and not come back," the devastated father added.
Jake was training to be a chef and he worked in the Spinaker Bar in Dunmore East since he was 16.
More recently, he had been working in The Reg gastropub in Waterford.
"It was his ambition to be a fully qualified chef," said Mr O'Neill, adding: "He started to get into some of that stuff chefs do -- foraging. He had books that I bought him about it.
"The day before he died he was over in Port Alley Cove foraging and he had just made a soup from what he found. I still have the soup on the stove."
Mr O'Neill said: "He doesn't live at home but when he comes out he brings the dog for a walk.
"The dog stayed with him until somebody happened to walk down to the beach, and the dog kept on barking at the person, until the person went to follow the dog over.
"The dog was in distress and they went over and I think Jake was actually probably dead at that stage."
He said arrangements for the funeral would be announced today.
A garda spokesman said that officers from Dunmore East were investigating the circumstances of the young man's death.
He said: "It's an unfortunate incident where it would appear that the man may have slipped."
The results of a post-mortem examination are expected today.