Thursday 12 December 2019

Former RNLI crewman drowns after boat capsizes

Members of the coastguard retrieve the fishing boat in which John Flynn lost his life, at Saleens, Tramore, Co Waterford
Members of the coastguard retrieve the fishing boat in which John Flynn lost his life, at Saleens, Tramore, Co Waterford

Paul Melia, Ralph Riegel and Conor Kane

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former lifeboat crew member who drowned after his boat overturned in choppy waters.

An investigation has been launched into the death of John Flynn (43), a single man from Marian Terrace in Dunmore East, who died after his boat capsized 3km off Brownstown Head near Tramore.

The tragedy came six years to the day that five fishermen died in the area when the trawler 'Pere Charles' sank. Mr Flynn had been involved in the search for the crew.

It also came after a 54-year-old fisherman airlifted to Cork University Hospital died after suffering a severe head injury on board the Spanish vessel 'Nuevo Mugardo' some 190km off Loop Head in Co Clare.

Mr Flynn had been fishing overnight with James Tate, originally from east Cork but living in Dunmore East for over 20 years, when their 4.6-metre boat capsized.


Sea conditions were described as "agitated", and while both men are understood to have been wearing lifejackets, their boat was not equipped with a radio or emergency beacons.

Known locally as "Sledger", Mr Flynn was a former member of the RNLI lifeboat crew in Dunmore East. He was a part-time fireman and a soccer player, who recently coached one of the local underage teams.

"It's a big shock," lifeboat coxswain Joseph Murphy said.

"He was a lovely guy. An inoffensive, quiet man who never did a bad turn to anyone in his life and would have helped anyone if he could."

The RNLI, with whom he served as an emergency mechanic for 15 years, described the incident as a "huge tragedy".

It is understood the boat capsized at about 5.30am yesterday and Mr Tate was able to swim ashore. He was discovered crawling exhausted along Tramore strand in a desperate bid to raise the alarm by a man out walking his dog.

Lifeboats from Tramore and Dunmore East and the Waterford search-and-rescue helicopter began an immediate search of the area before locating Mr Flynn shortly after 8.30am.

Efforts to revive Mr Flynn were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at Waterford Regional Hospital at 10am. Mr Tate was taken to hospital suffering from shock and hypothermia.

Gardai and investigators from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board will speak to Mr Tate as part of their investigation.

The accident occurred as Dunmore East marked the sixth anniversary of the 'Pere Charles' sinking, when five local fishermen lost their lives when their trawler capsized in heavy seas.

Just 24 hours later, on January 11, 2007, a second trawler, the 'Honeydew II', sank off the Waterford coast with the loss of two lives. None of the seven bodies were ever recovered.

Irish Independent

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