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Sunday 18 November 2018

Kayaker dead and another missing in Ecuador tragedy

Alex McGourty (19), from Sligo, pictured on a recent kayaking trip, died on Saturday while ‘on the trip of a lifetime’ in Ecuador
Alex McGourty (19), from Sligo, pictured on a recent kayaking trip, died on Saturday while ‘on the trip of a lifetime’ in Ecuador

Sasha Brady and Luke Byrne

A young Irishman has died and another is missing following a kayaking accident in Ecuador.

Alex McGourty (19), from Sligo, is understood to have died on Saturday.

David Higgins, originally from Kerry, is one of three men still missing following the incident.

It is understood that the pair had been travelling with a group of kayakers when they got into difficulty following a flash flood in the River Abanico, in the Morona Santiago province.

Mr McGourty's body was discovered yesterday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs last night said it was aware of both cases and was providing consular assistance to the men's families.

Mr McGourty, a member of Sligo Kayak Club, had been kayaking through North and South America for a number of years after qualifying for the World Kayak Academy.

Eddie Loftus, from Sligo Kayak Club, told the Irish Independent last night that the community was reeling from the tragedy.

He said Mr McGourty was a talented kayaker and a kind young man who often volunteered with the club, training young people with disabilities.

"He'll be so missed around here, we were all so fond of him," said Mr Loftus.

"Alex was a great kid, he was so unassuming too. He'd be the last one to tell you how skilful he was. He was on the trip of a lifetime over there. It's truly heartbreaking."

It is understood the authorities were alerted by a man who survived the tragedy. One of the kayakers was found alive by rescue teams yesterday.

According to local reports, one of the missing men is well-known Ecuadorian kayaker Joaquín Meneses. His father posted on Facebook that he had been involved in a kayak accident.

Local rescue teams, including police and firefighters, have joined in the search for the missing kayakers.

Irish Independent

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