Man drove 80km to sound alarm after friend swept to sea
A MAN drove almost 80km to raise the alarm after his friend was swept into the sea.
A search is underway since 10 am for the Latvian national missing off the Co Clare coast.
It is understood that he may have been in the water for up to two hours before emergency services were alerted.
The two men had been fishing from rocks about 100 metres south of the lighthouse at Blackhead in north Clare when one fell into the water.
The second man is understood to have gone to get help and when he returned to the scene, there was no sign of his friend.
The man's companion is believed to have panicked and drove almost 80km to Tuam in Co Galway where he reported his friend missing and the alarm was raised.
The shocked man and his boss travelled back to the scene where they met emergency services and pointed out the location where the fisherman had fallen in.
The Irish Coast Guard marine rescue co-ordination centre on Valentia Island in Co Kerry mounted a massive search at around 4.30pm.
The Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard was alerted and mobilised to the scene while the Shannon-based search and rescue helicopter was also tasked.
The RNLI lifeboat based at Inis Mor in the Aran Islands was also sent to assist in the search.
The helicopter, with its advanced infra-red and heat-seeking equipment, carried out sweeps of the sea, part of Galway and along the coast south and to the east of the scene.
Coast Guard land crews and gardai searched the coastline in an effort to locate the missing man. When there was no sign of him by 6pm, the search was called off for the night but resumed this morning at 10 am.
Just last October, a 42-year-old Latvian man drowned just a few kilometres from the scene of yesterdays incident.
The father-of-one had been fishing for mackerel with two friends at an area known locally as the Fisherman's Climb at Ballyreen near Fanore.
That was the third such fatal accident at the same area in recent years. In all three cases the incidents happened in front of the victim's family or friends and was also witnessed by others.