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Saturday 25 March 2017

Sailor and father of five dies while on shore leave

Kevin Keane

A FATHER of five who died while on Naval shore leave over the weekend will be buried with full military honours.

Leading Seaman Robert O'Keefe lost his life after falling from the quay in Schull, west Cork, in the early hours of yesterday morning.

His body was pulled from the water by colleagues who mounted a search in bitterly cold conditions after he failed to turn up at an arranged time to return to his vessel.

A Defence Forces spokesman said there were no suspicious circumstances at this stage.

"The exact details of what happened are yet to be established but the Naval Service are liaising with local gardai on the matter who feel that Robert's death was a tragic accident," he said.

The 34-year-old was serving on the LE Aisling which was carrying out fishery patrols off the south-west coast with a crew of 46 people.

He was one of a number of crew members from the vessel who went ashore to the fishing town of Schull on Saturday evening.

The men were due to meet at 2am in order to be taken back to their vessel by a launch boat.

The LE Aisling was moored a short distance from the quay in Schull harbour.

The sailors who went ashore boarded the ship shortly after 2.30am but discovered at this point that Mr O'Keefe was not onboard.

The launch boat then returned to the quay where the sailor was found floating in the water. He was initially taken to the LE Aisling but attempts to resuscitate him failed.

Investigation

Conditions in Schull at the time of the incident were described as calm but bitterly cold.

Mr O'Keefe's body was brought to Bantry Hospital and later transferred to Cork University Hospital where a post-mortem is due to be carried out.

The Navy and local gardai are carrying out separate investigations into his death.

Mr O'Keefe -- who was originally from Fermoy, Co Cork, but lived in Mallow -- is survived by his partner Moira and their five children.

The LE Aisling was due to return to naval headquarters at Haulbowline, Co Cork, yesterday.

Irish Independent

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