Monday 23 September 2019

Wife of tragic paraglider Rafal pays tribute to him as 'the best husband and father'

Rafal Skora with Dominika.
Rafal Skora with Dominika.
Shock: Dublin/Wicklow and Glen of Imaal rescue teams search for Rafal Skora. Photograph: Garry O'Neill
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The wife of a paraglider killed in an accident in the Wicklow mountains paid tribute to the "best husband and father".

Rafal Skora became a father for the second time only a few weeks ago.

Rafal, also known as Ralph, was an experienced paraglider who put in hundreds of hours of time at his favourite sport since he took it up in recent years.

His body was found early yesterday morning in a field at Ballinacor Estate, Wicklow, together with the wreckage from his paragliding equipment.

The alarm had been raised on Saturday night when Rafal failed to return home to his Artane address after a day out paragliding with a friend.

A group of fellow paragliders and adventure sports enthusiasts, as well as Wicklow ­Mountain Rescue, commenced a search together with the Irish Coast Guard Rescue at first light yesterday morning.

The wreckage of Rafal's equipment was spotted from the air by a coast guard helicopter.

The father-of-two's body was discovered nearby when the ground search crews were directed to the scene.

His body was removed for post mortem, and the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) has been informed and will begin an investigation to establish the cause of the incident.

Rafal's wife Dominika was last night coming to terms with the tragedy and was being comforted by friends and neighbours.

Ms Skora told RTÉ News: "Rafal was a good friend and a pilot. But most of all, he was the best husband to me, and father to our children.

"All I'm asking of those who knew him is to never forget him."

The couple, who are originally from Poland, have a son aged around three. Within the last few weeks, they also had a baby daughter.

A friend, who is also a paragliding enthusiast, said he was shocked by the news.

"I can't believe it is Rafal. I just can't believe it. He had a huge level of experience," he said.

"Rafal has been paragliding for just a few years, but he has hundreds of hours of experience paragliding here and abroad.

"He has a few records for long flights, hundreds of kilometres."

"He was a really good pilot," he added.

"He was supposed to be going to Spain in a few weeks to paraglide there, he was looking forward to it," he explained.

"I hope that his death was quick, that he did not suffer. I don't know if I can continue with paragliding now," the friend said with emotion.

The Irish Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association also paid tribute to Rafal, saying their "thoughts and prayers are with his family".

The association also confirmed it was assisting the Air Accident Investigation Unit.

Rafal used to work as a taxi driver, but more recently set up a business selling paragliding equipment online.

Neighbours said they were shocked at the news. "It is very sad for his family," said one.

Irish Independent

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