Coastguard calls off search for Irishman swept out to sea
THE US Coastguard has called off the search for an Irishman who was swept out to sea by a huge Hurricane Katia wave on Friday.
Thomas Clarke (32), from Kilnaleck, Co Cavan, was hit by a giant wave on Monhegan Island in Maine, in the northeastern United States, at around 1pm on Friday.
The keen amateur photographer was attempting to take pictures of the massive waves caused by the hurricane while sightseeing with friends before a wedding.
He was walking with a group on rocks close to a cave near Norton Ledge on the Atlantic coast when he was hit.
After the incident four of his friends jumped in to try and rescue him. The group swam around 300 yards from the shore to try and reach him before losing sight of him. It is thought he was caught in a riptide.
The four managed to scramble on to rocks and were stranded until low tide when three of them were able to climb safely off.
A woman with the group was so distraught by the incident that she needed to be airlifted off the rocks by a Coastguard helicopter crew.
The US Coastguard searched 615 miles within a 200-mile radius for 34 hours to try and find Mr Clarke.
Crews from the Maine Marine Patrol, Monhegan Island Volunteer Fire Department and many others all assisted with the search to no avail.
Petty Officer Connie Terrell said the Coastguard was not still searching for Mr Clarke and did not intend to start up a new search.
"The Coastguard searches as long as there is a probable chance the person is still alive," she said.
Two of Mr Clarke's brothers are believed to have flown out to Maine. He is also being mourned by his parents, Thomas and Maura, and several other siblings.
Mr Clarke, who was a builder, had returned to Ireland a few years ago and was believed to have bought a house in Kilnaleck. However, he returned to the US more than a year ago.