Saturday 18 November 2017

Father-of-one died playing reality video game after fall during 'night mission' at pier

Frank Maxwell's body was recovered from the water at Poolbeg (Background: Ingress game)
Frank Maxwell's body was recovered from the water at Poolbeg (Background: Ingress game)

Louise Roseingrave and Laura Larkin

An Irish player of an online game requiring physical visits to landmark sites died during a late-night 'mission', an inquest heard.

Francis (Frank) Maxwell (48) from Portacarran, Oughterard, Co Galway was playing Ingress, an augmented reality game that captures landmark buildings or 'portals' for points, when he died. Mr Maxwell, a father-of-one originally from Dublin and working in the capital during the week, was found in the water next to Poolbeg Pier around noon on September 25, 2015.

The IT professional had gone to the pier at 2.30am on September 25 on a mission to 'redo some work undone' by Ingress opponents. Team-mates say he checked in at the pier on Google Hangouts at 2.31am and remarked that it was cold. Mr Maxwell was not heard from again, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

Mr Maxwell's wife, Alma Joyce, said he was one of the leading Ingress players in Ireland. He was also a "proud, protective father" to their son, Lucas.

Tragedy: Frank Maxwell's body was recovered from the water at Poolbeg
Tragedy: Frank Maxwell's body was recovered from the water at Poolbeg

"Lucas brought him pure joy. He was a beautiful, intelligent, independent soul and he had a great laugh. Life is a living nightmare without him," Ms Joyce said in her deposition. Detective Garda John Paul Marrinan said Mr Maxwell and others were "linking portals" as part of the Ingress game at sites between Tyrellstown, in Skerries and Poolbeg Lighthouse, on the night of September 24, 2015.

They completed their task by 11pm but Mr Maxwell went out to Poolbeg Pier later that night after an opposition team "undid some of their work".

Det Gda Marrinan said Mr Maxwell may have tripped on raised grates for water run-off while walking along the pier and may have been looking at his phone. Garda Valerie Farrell said the raised grates had since been removed from the pier. The phone was never recovered.

He sustained a skull fracture in the fall and the cause of death was drowning. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure because the portal itself had "inherent risk factors".

The court heard Mr Maxwell had big plans for the global development of the game.

Irish Independent

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