Thursday 21 November 2019

Search for missing GAA star after 20-metre dive into Canadian river

  • Underwater search resumes for talented young GAA player
  • David Gavin among group travelling between Vancouver and Calgary
  • 'Every parent's nightmare'
David Gavin (26)
David Gavin (26)
Tragic swimming accident: David Gavin from Co Mayo

Allison Bray and Kathy Armstrong

An underwater search resumed yesterday for a talented young GAA star from Co Mayo who is presumed drowned after a tragic swimming accident in Canada.

The heartbroken family of David Gavin (26), from Castlebar, are understood to have joined a vigil at the banks of Beaver River, near Kinbasket Lake, British Columbia, yesterday as underwater divers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) went back into the water for a third day.

Mr Gavin was last seen diving from a logging road bridge over the Beaver River on Friday afternoon.

According to Rick Chartraw, owner of the Kinbasket Lake Resort camp ground near Golden, British Columbia, Mr Gavin was among a group of young Gaelic football players from Ireland who were travelling by car between Vancouver and Calgary.

"They stopped at the resort and asked if they could go for a swim," Mr Chartraw told the Irish Independent.

He told them they were welcome to jump off the resort's dock into the lake - a reservoir on the Columbia River.

Tragic swimming accident: David Gavin from Co Mayo
Tragic swimming accident: David Gavin from Co Mayo

"But unfortunately they saw a bridge over the Beaver River nearby and the young man jumped from the bridge to the river below," he said of the 20-metre drop.

"He surfaced and said he was OK but then disappeared," Mr Chartraw said.

The river itself is deep and it is very fast moving, he said of the tributary of the Columbia River which is fed by a glacier.

"We don't know what happened," he said.

It's understood that Mr Gavin, who is a full-back for the Breaffy GAA club in Castlebar, was on transfer from the club to a Gaelic football club in Vancouver.

He had been playing for the Canadian club for only a few weeks.


Officials from the Breaffy club declined to comment pending the outcome of the search operation.

However, a local man described Mr Gavin as "a hugely popular young man who would be well known" in the area.

Mr Gavin's devastated teammates have kept a vigil at the riverside since the tragedy unfolded about 3.30pm on Friday.

RCMP from Golden launched a search along with the local search and rescue team on Friday, in which two boats and a sniffer dog were deployed to search the Beaver River - also known as Beaver Creek - as well as Kinbasket Lake and the shoreline.

The search resumed on Saturday but was called off at dusk and resumed yesterday morning.

Local campers pitched in and offered tents and other accommodation to Mr Gavin's teammates, Mr Chartraw said.

It is understood that Mr Gavin's parents - who both work for Mayo County Council - were expected to arrive at the site yesterday.

Meanwhile, local Mayo county councillor Michael Kilcoyne said the community was shocked and saddened by the tragedy.

"I'm very saddened to hear the news," he said.

"It's a terrible time for the family; this is every parent's nightmare."

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was aware of the accident involving an Irish citizen.

The Irish embassy in Ottawa is liaising with local authorities and providing assistance.

Irish Independent

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