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The late Garda Dave Hearne

The late Garda Dave Hearne

The late Garda Dave Hearne

An off-duty garda who lost his life in a diving tragedy died without knowing he was to secure a promotion to sergeant just weeks later.

The revelation came as the Wexford-based family of Dave Hearne (47) paid a moving tribute to the father of four to mark his first anniversary.

Garda Hearne died in a freak diving tragedy off the Wexford coast on May 25, 2019.

He was a former member of the Garda Water Unit, but had latterly been with the Waterford Traffic Corps.

The officer had saved nine people over previous years thanks to his life-saving skills.

His family revealed they were visited by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris after the tragedy - and he confirmed Garda Hearne was to have been promoted to sergeant just weeks later.

He died without realising he had secured his dream promotion.

The Hearne family said they only managed to cope with their grief thanks to the outpouring of support from the Wexford and Waterford communities, Garda Hearne's colleagues and those of his wife, Barbara, as well as ordinary members of the public he had helped.

"We wish to thank everyone for the kindness, sympathy, support and love. We have been comforted by the number of people whose lives Dave touched both professionally and privately. We have drawn great solace from so many stories of his unrelenting bravery and strength," his mother Gemma said.

His sister, Brighid, said they were deeply touched by the high regard in which he was held, while his sister Maeve said the family were bowled over by the incredible public support.

Irish Independent