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Swim dad drowned in front of children


Peter McDonough

Peter McDonough

Peter McDonough

a man suddenly stopped swimming and drowned while out in Wicklow Harbour with his two young children, an inquest has heard.

Peter McDonough (45), of Edenbrook Manor, Rathfarnham, was not breathing when he was pulled from the water in the early evening of Sunday, July 21, last year.

He was resuscitated but died the following day.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard from his father, Maurice, that Mr McDonough had been staying with him and his wife in the family's holiday home at Brittas Bay for the weekend along with his son Dylan (8) and daughter Charlie (6).

At around 4.30pm he left the house with the two children to go to the harbour.

"He absolutely adored his children and he was off to go swimming with them. That was the last we saw of him," said his father.

The incident happened as Mr McDonough (inset) swam out to a raft in the middle of the harbour with his children.

Bystanders told the lifeguard on duty, Katie O'Neill, that he suddenly stopped swimming. Mr McDonough's father told the coroner that Dylan had told them the same thing.

Ms O'Neill first spotted something was wrong at around 5.20pm when she saw Dylan and Charlie too far out in the water for children of their age.


"I started making my way to the shoreline to ask them to come in, but as I was going down I heard them shout 'help' so I started running," she said.

It was a sunny day and the beach was "quite busy" at the time, with Ms O'Neill estimating that around 200 or more people were there.

She said she grabbed her kayak and started paddling towards the children as fast as she could. It took her about 30 seconds to reach them once she was in the water, she said.

"There were another three kayaks out on the water and one of these had taken the two children on to the back. I heard them say 'Something happened to daddy' and I spotted him face down in the water," she said.

Another man got to Mr McDonough before Ms O'Neill and pulled him out of the water on to a kayak. She turned him over and found that he was not breathing.


"I started deep water resuscitation. At some point around this time I shouted for an ambulance to be called," she said.

As she towed Mr McDonough back to shore, he expelled water and foam came from his mouth. CPR was continued on shore and a pulse was retrieved.

He was airlifted to Tallaght Hospital where he was admitted to intensive care on arrival, but he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead the following day, July 22.

The inquest heard that no witnesses who saw what happened prior to Ms O'Neill beginning the rescue came forward.

Ms O'Neill said that she did not see Mr McDonough struggling in the water when she first spotted the children. The family told the court that Mr McDonough was in good health prior to the incident.

The post-mortem was carried out by pathologist Dr Clare D'Arcy, who said that death was by drowning but she found no evidence of heart disease and it cannot be said definitively whether Mr McDonough suffered a cardiac event prior to the incident.

She told the family that it is not possible at post-mortem to detect if someone has suffered a cardiac arrhythmia. There was no evidence of aneurysm in the brain.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of accidental death.