Tuesday 28 February 2017

Schoolboy (17) plunges 40ft to his death in holiday tragedy

Kevin Keane and Paddy Clancy

Joe Olwill: 17-year-old was
due to start school
Joe Olwill: 17-year-old was due to start school
Witnesses Chris Torbitt and Marguerite Beattie at the apartments where Joe Olwill lost his life

A secondary-school student who plunged 40ft to his death was due to begin the first day of his Leaving Cert year yesterday.

Instead, an end-of-summer surfing trip turned to tragedy for Joe Olwill (17) from Santry in Dublin after he plunged to his death while trying to climb in the third-floor window of a holiday apartment.

One witness told how distraught friends gathered around his body after his plunge, pleading for a sign he was still alive.

Joe's older brother Kevin (19) was asleep in one of the apartments at the time of the accident.

Students and staff at St Aidan's CBS on Collins Avenue, Dublin, only learnt of the accident following roll-call yesterday. They told the Irish Independent that he was a popular and easy-going student, who was well-liked by everyone.

Between 12 and 14 young men and women, mostly newly graduated secondary students in their late teens, were out on their last night of a surf trip in Bundoran, Co Donegal, when the accident happened at around 2.30am yesterday.

Gardai have established that after becoming locked out of his apartment with a number of friends, Joe climbed out a window and on to the roof of the Tirconnell Holiday Apartments where he was staying before attempting to re-enter the building.

A holidaymaker described how she witnessed the event -- but mistook the teenager for a falling sack of rubbish.

"I suddenly saw what was a black parcel of rubbish dropping from a third-floor window. I thought it might have been somebody throwing it out of the window," Marguerite Beattie from Belfast said yesterday.

"I've been told since that he was trying to climb down from the roof to gain entry to his apartment. He might have got his feet to the window-sill. I can't say. But it was at that stage I saw the falling bundle."

Her partner Chris Torbitt witnessed two of Joe's friends pleading with the 17-year-old to give them a sign that he was alive.

"They were screaming 'Joe, Joe, move, move a foot, move your body'."

A bouncer from a nearby nightclub applied CPR for about 20 minutes, but Joe was pronounced dead at about 3.20am.

A group of about eight boys and girls who were still in one of the apartments yesterday, shortly before taking a bus back to Dublin, were shaken by the accident.

However, one said: "There was a big group of us. We're all friends."

Meanwhile in Dublin, students at St Aidan's CBS were informed of Joe's death at lunchtime yesterday. Classmates described Joe as well-liked. "He knew everybody. He was a rock and roller, always up for a good time, he was the life and soul of the party," one student said.

Joe was the youngest in a family of five. His parents Patrick and Anne travelled to Bundoran yesterday and later to Sligo General Hospital where a post-mortem was being carried out.

Irish Independent

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