Sunday 17 December 2017

Quarry owner drowned after helping flood victims

Claire O'Brien

A generous quarry owner who donated a water pump to help flood victims tragically drowned in his own quarry, an inquest has heard.

John Gannon (67) loaned the pump to the people of Athlone who were flooded during last winter's unprecedented rains while waters rose dangerously at his own quarry in Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath.

An inquest in Tullamore heard the father of four had been using his memory of where the quarry's roads were to navigate through the waters that rose above the level of the caterpillar tracks of his excavator on December 5 last year.

However, the vehicle toppled into the water door-side down, trapping him.

Family and friends dived into the freezing waters to release him, but his son Darragh was unable to break the glass with a lump hammer because of a steel cage that had been erected around it to protect against falling rocks. Using heavy machinery, his sons eventually managed to shift the vehicle to open the door and their father's body was removed.

Coroner Brian Mahon said those present had done the best they could to try to save Mr Gannon's life. A verdict of death by drowning was recorded.

Irish Independent

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