A WOMAN has described how an off-duty garda on a family holiday fell head-first off a clifftop to his death in the sea with his six-year-old son only yards away.
At the Clare Coroner's inquest into the death of Garda Adrian Martin, Susan Kiely recalled seeing Gda Martin (46) of Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, fall off the 75-foot high Dunlicky Cliffs at Kilkee while fishing on August 25 last.
Gda Martin was on a family holiday to Kilkee with his wife Helen and their six-year-old son Dermot.
He went fishing with Dermot to Dunlicky outside Kilkee at 11.20am on the day.
In her deposition, read out at the inquest, Ms Kiely recalled seeing Gda Martin at the cliff edge bent over.
She recalled: "He was tugging at his fishing line. I roared to my husband 'he is going, he is going' and I saw the man in the red jacket fall head first over the cliffs at 1.10pm."
Ms Kiely said that there had been a torrential downpour in the previous hour and that had made the rocks slippy, though she told the inquest: "I don't know if he actually slipped. I didn't see him after that. I don't know how or where he landed."
Ms Kiely said that she saw Gda Martin's son Dermot "starting to move forward to the cliff face".
She said: "At that stage my husband ran over to the child and took him to safety."
At the emotionally charged inquest, Gda Martin's wife Helen wept as Inspector Tom Kennedy read out her deposition.
Ms Martin said that she had expected Gda Martin and Dermot back by 1.30pm.
She said: "I could not make contact with Adrian on the mobile phone."
Ms Martin said that shortly after 2pm, she saw her son Dermot standing beside a garda patrol car that had stopped near their holiday apartment.
She said: "I asked 'where is Adrian?' One the guards then informed me that there had been an accident and that Adrian was dead."
In her post mortem, Dr Vourneen Healy said that Gda Martin suffered a deep laceration on the left side of the forehead and fractures to his left elbow, right hip and right knee along with fractures of the facial bones.
Dr Healy concluded that death was due "to acute cardio respiratory failure, secondary to multiple traumatic injuries, including skull fractures sustained in an accidental fall".
County coroner Isobel O'Dea said that it was very clear that Gda Martin died accidentally and returned a verdict of accidental death.
She said: "It was a calm day, but the rain may have made the surface slippery. These fishing areas are very pop- ular, but can be somewhat dangerous."