Saturday 24 March 2018

Body found in search for missing crewman after fishing boat capsizes in front of crowd just metres off coast

The scene in Skerries Credit: Kyran O'Brien
The scene in Skerries Credit: Kyran O'Brien
The Scene in Skerries Credit: Kyran O'Brien
The scene in Skerries Credit: Kyran O'Brien
The scene in Skerries Credit: Kyran O'Brien
The scene in Skerries Credit: Kyran O'Brien

Allison Bray and Luke Byrne

A massive search for a missing crewman after his fishing boat capsized and sank just metres off the coast of Skerries has recovered a body.

The skipper of the boat was rescued and rushed to Beaumont Hospital following the shocking incident off the coast of north Co Dublin yesterday, but another man had been missing.

He was named locally as Jamie McAlister (28), from Mourne View in Skerries.

The skipper of the boat was named as Keith McAlister, also of Mourne View, who is believed to be Jamie's uncle.

The search, involving the Coast Guard, Defence Forces, gardaí and local fishermen and pleasure boats, was wound down at 9.30pm last night but resumed at first light today.

RTE News reported that the man's remains were found around 500m from the pier at Skerries after the Marine Institute vessel the Kirby reported a contact on its sonar. Garda divers went to the location and found the body.

Yesterday, the rescued fisherman was taken to hospital and was reported to be "doing well".

The fishermen were aboard their small razor fishing boat when it sank about 300ft from shore in an area known locally as the Perch rock at around 2pm.

The two men had been fishing for clams since early yesterday morning.

Onlookers who were enjoying the fine weather in the popular seaside town watched in horror as the boat capsized and went under the water just metres from the RNLI lifeboat station beside the harbour. However, they were able to raise the alarm immediately, which aided in the rescue efforts, an RNLI spokeswoman said.

"The alarm was raised so early thanks to the fine weather," she said.

The Irish naval ships the LÉ Orla and LÉ Niamh led the extensive search and rescue operation.

The Air Corps Casa 253 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft was also deployed.

It has sophisticated search equipment on board, including forward-looking infrared and high-powered camera system. It too was patrolling the coastline off Skerries as the Dublin Coast Guard rescue helicopter did regular circuits of the bay and shoreline. A research vessel from the Geological Institute of Ireland, which was conducting a sonar search for an unrelated wreck, also assisted in the search.

The Garda sub-aqua unit was dispatched to search the water for the missing crewman. Volunteers from the RNLI from Skerries, Clogherhead and Howth were also on the water in a bid to find Mr McAlister.

More than a dozen local fishermen and pleasure boats were patrolling the area last night.

A large crowd of local residents was involved in the search from the shore, scanning the water for the missing crewman using binoculars.

As the tragedy unfolded yesterday, family members, many in tears, embraced each other.

The silence on the harbour was broken only by the whirr of a rescue helicopter and the Air Corps plane as it swooped overhead.

Onlookers were stunned at how close the boat was to shore when it sank.

"It's so close, you could swim out to it," one woman remarked.

The sea appeared to be calm, however, it's understood there were strong currents at the time of the incident. Rescue personnel searched a wide perimeter around the bay while a Garda diving team could be seen carrying out searches in the area where the boat capsized.

The high temperatures attracted scores of people to the seafront yesterday. "The area is known for fishing. I'm sure with the day that's in it, the lads decided to head out," said a local man. "It's just awful."

Irish Independent

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