Tuesday 16 January 2018

Man rushed to hospital after Buncrana pier rescue - while search continues for swimmer in Wicklow lakes

Buncrana Pier (Inset: RNLI)
Buncrana Pier (Inset: RNLI)

Greg Harkin and Martin Grant

A MAN has been rushed to hospital in Co Donegal after being rescued off Buncrana pier, while a search continues this morning for a swimmer who got into difficulty swimming in the Blessington lakes.

The incident in Co Donegal happened around 10pm off the same pier where five people from the same family died on March 20.

Lifeboat crews and emergency services were scrambled to the scene after the man was seen to be in difficulties in the water.

A passerby managed to throw the man a life buoy and he was brought to safety.

An ambulance was able to take the man to Letterkenny University Hospital where he is said to be in a stable condition.

In Wicklow, a search has resumed this morning for a man who was reported to have been spotted in difficulty while swimming in the Blessington Lakes in Co Wicklow yesterday evening.

The slipway at Buncrana Pier. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
The slipway at Buncrana Pier. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

The search is centred in the Lackan area on the picturesque Co Wicklow lakes.

Gardai could be seen on the lake shore this morning in a secluded area accessed by a private road leading to a small car park around 5km from Blessington.

'Members of the coastguard have described the Blessington Lakes as a vast area to search' (stock photo)
'Members of the coastguard have described the Blessington Lakes as a vast area to search' (stock photo)

A garda spokesman confirmed the search was ongoing involving Gardai, the Dublin Mountain Rescue, the Glen of Immal Mountain Rescue, Blessington Water Rescue, and the ESB.

Divers from the Garda Water Unit were also due to arrive at the scene this morning.

The search for the missing man resumed at 7am this morning. 

Members of the coastguard have described the Blessington Lakes as a vast area to search.

It is believed the man was enjoying the hot weather when he got into difficulty.

Meanwhile, the RNLI has issued a strong warning to those contemplating taking to the water in inappropriate craft in the good weather.

It comes after a father and son were rescued from the freezing waters of Strangford Lough, Co Down on Friday night.

Despite the relatively calm conditions, the men got into serious trouble and the RNLI said it was luck there was not a serious tragedy on their hands.

Their cries for help were heard from the shore and just after 7pm the lifeboat launched from Portaferry to Killyleagh. The men were found by a local boat crew around three miles from the lifeboat station.

Their inflatable dinghy became swamped and the pair ended up in the water. The inflatable craft was fitted with an outboard engine and showed signs of patching on the tube where a repair had been carried out.

The RNLI said the craft was totally unsuitable for the open water and the addition of the motor made it even more dangerous

Portaferry RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Brian Bailie said: "These two men had a lucky escape. If their cries for help had not been heard this could have been an awful tragedy.

"These types of craft are totally unsuitable for the open waters off our coast. Conditions and tides can change at a moment’s notice and the sea must be respected.

"An inflatable dinghy which may be okay in a supervised indoor pool is not meant for the sea. Also in this case the addition of the power from the attached outboard engine made an unsuitable craft even more dangerous.

"We would urge people to be responsible and check that they are using the proper equipment when they take to the water.

"Conditions on the lough were quite calm on Friday with a force three and a slight sea, yet these people ended up in serious trouble.

"Thankfully they were wearing personal flotation devices but they spent some time in freezing cold water before their cries were heard and they were rescued."

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