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Tragedy for family as man drowned in same area his father died 40 years ago

  • Thomas (16) second victim of boat tragedy

  • Survivor clung to buoy for four hours

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Port Ronan pier at Malin Head, from which the boat departed and inset Gerry 'Malin' Doherty

Port Ronan pier at Malin Head, from which the boat departed and inset Gerry 'Malin' Doherty

Port Ronan pier at Malin Head, from which the boat departed and inset Gerry 'Malin' Doherty

The father of the man who perished in the double-drowning tragedy off Co Donegal also died in a drowning tragedy in the same area.

Gerry 'Malin' Doherty, who was in his 60s, died after his boat capsized less than a kilometre out to sea off Malin Head.

A 16-year-old boy, Thomas Weir, also drowned in the same accident.

A third man, who is in his late 40s, survived after he clung to a fishing buoy for four hours before being spotted and brought to safety.

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Gerry 'Malin' Doherty

Gerry 'Malin' Doherty

Gerry 'Malin' Doherty

The late Mr Doherty's father, Paddy 'Malin' Doherty, perished when he slipped and fell off rocks almost 40 years ago while 'crabbing' in the same area.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Albert Doherty said he had spoken to Gerry's brother Patsy, who was visiting from London in recent days.

"I know the family well and they are lovely people. I was in school with Gerry, and he was a lovely guy.

"I called to see his brother Patsy and he pulled out a picture of Gerry and his dad together, and said that Gerry didn't die far from where his father Paddy died 39 years ago.

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Drowning victim Thomas Weir

Drowning victim Thomas Weir

Drowning victim Thomas Weir

"It's very sad for them all and our hearts and prayers are with them all at this time," he said.

"Gerry was a big man and always had a bit of fun. He was typical of our people who left for work to Australia and he also worked in London.

"He married a lovely Mayo woman, Marian, and they had two lovely daughters and also grandchildren."

The boat on which the men had put out to sea was a 16ft cabin cruiser vessel owned by Mr Doherty.

The boat left the small Port Ronan pier just before 9am on Tuesday in what were described as good conditions.

However, at around noon it is believed the engine on the boat lost power. They are understood to have been less than a kilometre from shore at the time.

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The Port Ronan pier at Malin Head, from which the boat departed. Photo: North West Newspix

The Port Ronan pier at Malin Head, from which the boat departed. Photo: North West Newspix

The Port Ronan pier at Malin Head, from which the boat departed. Photo: North West Newspix

It was not until just before 4pm that the alarm was raised when visitors staying in a nearby cottage heard cries for help. They alerted the nearby Malin Head coast guard, who rushed to the scene.

Missing

The first person taken from the water by winch was Thomas, who was wearing a life-jacket. He was rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, where he was later pronounced dead.

The teenager is originally from Scotland but had been living with his relative Dessie Keenan in Derry.

Mr Keenan, originally from Co Monaghan, has lived in Derry for a number of years. He was the second man to be taken from the water after he was spotted clinging to a buoy. He was also taken to Altnagelvin Hospital but has since been released.

Search parties continued to scour the area for the third missing man, Mr Doherty, who was originally from Carndonagh but who was living in Burt.

Just before 6pm, a woman spotted what looked like a body on a rocky outcrop close to an area known locally as Banba's Crown near Malin Head.

A team managed to carry his body up onto the roadway where he was pronounced dead by a local doctor.

Exactly what happened to cause the men's boat to capsize will be the subject of two investigations, by gardaí and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

Garda Inspector Eugene McGovern confirmed the boat had been recovered and would be examined.

Joe Joyce of the Lough Swilly Lifeboat said the vessel would have sunk very quickly. "Once outside the cabin with the engine on the back, they would have had a small enough space to be on. The back of the boat would have gone down first with the weight of the engine."

Irish Independent