Wednesday 20 September 2017

String of tragedies hit community

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

THE death of three fishermen off the coast of Waterford is the latest in a string of marine tragedies in the area.

Former RNLI member Johnny Flynn died in the same area five months ago, almost to the day.

Mr Flynn (43), from Dunmore East, was killed when he and his friend, James Tate, were thrown into the water when their 16ft-boat capsized. As with the latest tragedy, the incident occurred off Brownstown Head near Tramore. Both men were wearing lifejackets but only Mr Tate managed to make it ashore.

A coastguard helicopter spotted Mr Flynn and winched him from the water but efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

Known locally as 'Sledger', Mr Flynn was a former member of the RNLI lifeboat crew in Dunmore East. He was a part-time fireman and a soccer player, who coached one of the local underage teams. The experienced seafarer was single and his death happened on the sixth anniversary of the sinking of the Pere Charles fishing trawler.

TRAWLER

On January 10, 2007, five fishermen – Tom Hennessy, Pat Hennessy, Billy O'Connor, Pat Coady and Andriy Dyrin – died when the Pere Charles sank in a matter of seconds in heavy seas as it returned to Dunmore East port.

Just 24 hours later, a second trawler, the Honeydew II, sank off the Waterford coast with the loss of two lives. None of the seven bodies were ever recovered.

In 1999 tragedy stuck the area when the Tramore-based Dauphin search and rescue helicopter crashed, killing four crew members. The incident happened at about 12.40am on Thursday July 8, 1999, as the Dauphin was returning to Waterford from a rescue mission.

The helicopter made two aborted attempts to land at Waterford Airport before crashing into the high sand dunes on nearby Tramore beach.

Mick Baker, Dave O'Flaherty, Paddy Mooney and Niall Byrne were all killed in the tragedy.

The crew, who were based in houses in Dunmore East, drove in very foggy conditions to a nearby airport and flew directly to Dungarvan Bay, 30 miles away.

The helicopter had successfully aided the Helvick, a small lifeboat with only basic navigational aids and no radar, which was having difficulties in the fog. A subsequent investigation into the incident was critical of aspects of the management of the rescue mission.

Irish Independent

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