Monday 17 June 2019

'A nightmare that many of us can’t imagine' - Tanaiste offers support to find missing Trinity College professor on Mount Everest

The Tanaiste said the government would offer financial or organisational support to help find Seamus Lawless.

Fall: Trinity College professor and climber Seamus Lawless had reached the summit on Everest early yesterday morning and was starting the descent
Fall: Trinity College professor and climber Seamus Lawless had reached the summit on Everest early yesterday morning and was starting the descent

David Young

The Irish government will offer any support it can to help efforts to find a missing climber on Mount Everest, Tanaiste Simon Coveney has said.

Seamus “Shay” Lawless, from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell as he descended the peak on Thursday having just achieved a lifetime ambition of reaching the summit.

Mr Coveney said he had spoken to Mr Lawless’s wife Pamela several times over the weekend and had discussed how the government could help.

The Trinity College professor’s family have launched a fundraising campaign to help finance expensive search and recovery efforts.

Seamus Lawless and Jenny Copeland on one of their earlier treks in training for the climb
Seamus Lawless and Jenny Copeland on one of their earlier treks in training for the climb

His relatives have asked for the public’s help to raise the money needed to gather a team of Sherpas to find him.

A GoFundMe page set up by the family on Friday night with a target of raising €750,000 had passed €215,000 in little over 36 hours.

Mr Coveney said the authorities in Ireland would help in any way possible.

“I have spoken to Pamela his wife on a number of occasions over the last 24 hours,” he told RTE on Sunday.

“She is a remarkable woman and she is going through a nightmare that many of us simply can’t imagine.”

He added: “We are willing to offer any support we can, either financial or organisational, she knows that.”

Seamus Lawless’s family have launched a fundraising campaign to help finance a search operation on Everest (screengrab of GoFundMe page/PA)
Seamus Lawless’s family have launched a fundraising campaign to help finance a search operation on Everest (screengrab of GoFundMe page/PA)

Mr Lawless’s colleagues at Trinity College organised a vigil on Saturday evening. The climber was an assistant professor at the university’s School of Computer Science.

The search for Mr Lawless was classified classified as a recovery operation on Friday.

Mingma Sherpa, owner of Seven Summits Treks, told RTE News that conditions descending the mountain were "very good" but that Mr Lawless appears to have had an accidental fall.

"It is a very difficult situation. We are searching for a body," Mr Sherpa said.

"The Sherpas were shouting for him last night but couldn't find him."

The description on the GoFundMe page set up by the family said: “It is with an extremely heavy heart that the Lawless family have had to set up this GoFundMe page to ask for donations.

“Shay achieved his lifelong dream on the morning of Thursday 15th May when he reached the peak of Mount Everest. Tragically, on his descent, Shay fell and has been missing since.  

“With the weekend upon us, we, the family of Shay, have been left with no other option but to ask for assistance in raising funds to gather a team of expert Sherpas to locate and bring our beloved Shay home to Ireland.  

“Time is of the essence in the search mission and the costs of running this mission are substantial.”

The family spokesperson added that they have received “little to no information” about what happened on Thursday morning. 

“It is our priority to locate him and bring him home and we appreciate all the support that can be offered as we face this hugely challenging situation.”

  • For more information about the fundraiser or to donate please visit here

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