Victim of wrongful arrest dies after being hit by falling tree
A MAN whose wrongful arrest ended up before the Morris Tribunal was killed by a falling tree in a freak accident yesterday.
Hugh Diver (59) of Ardara, Co Donegal, was cutting trees for a neighbour in a laneway to a house on the Glenties Road near Ardara yesterday morning when the accident happened.
An experienced tree surgeon, he was using straps and a winch to take down a 30ft-tall fir tree when a large branch fell on him, trapping him underneath.
Emergency services attended but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Separate investigations by gardai and the Health and Safety Authority were launched into the accident, which occurred at around 11.45am.
Inspector Sylvie Henry, who is leading the garda investigation, described it as a terrible accident.
"Mr Diver was known as a man who would give 100pc to any job he did," he said.
The father of three daughters and a son is survived by his wife Bernadette, who had just arrived in New York to visit a family member when she received the tragic news.
Mr Diver was one of three men who were arrested under the Offences Against the State Act after an explosive device was discovered attached to a controversial MMDS television mast in Ardara in November 1996.
He claimed that the arrest was unlawful and linked to an incident several years previously when he had refused to let his wife give evidence in a court case against a woman who had allegedly assaulted a garda.
He also claimed that the device had been put together at a garda station.
Mr Justice Frederick Morris found in his favour, concluding that his arrest had been unfounded and based on a false premise and that Mr Diver had been truthful in his evidence.
Last night, the chairman of the traders' organisation in Ardara, Stephen McCahill, described Mr Diver as the epitome of all that was good about the small Donegal town.
"He was a great community man. He was always there to help people out," he said.
"He was humble and generous and was one of Ardara's unsung heroes. His death is a terrible loss."
Mr McCahill added that Mr Diver would be most remembered for his annual appearance as St Patrick for the annual parade.
"He was very particular about everything he did and this was no exception.
"He grew his beard long especially for the occasion," added Mr McCahill.