Malin Head sea tragedy: Sadness at death of man and teenage boy

Further details have emerged of the sea tragedy at Malin Head on Tuesday, which claimed the lives of a man in his 60s and a teenage boy.

A third man in his 50s, who was rescued from the water by crew of a fishing vessel, has been discharged from Altnagelvin Hospital.

Members of the public assisted the RNLI and Coastguard with a shore search in difficult terrain near Banba's Crown, Malin Head.

Members of the public assisted the RNLI and Coastguard with a shore search in difficult terrain near Banba's Crown, Malin Head.

The boat in which the trio were in capsized in waters off Portronan pier at around Midday on Tuesday and they entered the water. There are conflicting reports of where the man in his 50s and the 16-year-old boy are from. It is understood the man in his 60s who died is from the Burt area in Donegal.

Joe Joyce of Lough Swilly RNLI told the ‘Journal’ the trio left the pier shortly after 9am on Tuesday morning.

He said: “At around 12pm, they got into difficulty - the nature of that, we are not sure. It resulted in the boat being swamped and capsizing. The men entered the water, which they were in for a considerable amount of time, around three and a half to four hours.”

The alarm was raised at 3.30pm, when a couple staying in a holiday home near Portronan Pier heard a shout for help and contacted Malin Head Coast Guard Station. The station immediately tasked Lough Swilly RNLI’s two lifeboats, Greencastle Coastguard and the Sligo 118 coastguard helicopter to the scene.

At the same time, the Officer in Charge at Malin Head Coast Guard went to the scene and saw people in the water.

The Malin Head station also put out a ‘Mayday’ request to all local fishing vessels at sea in the Malin area to identify themselves and aid with the search.

The crew of a local fishing boat also heard the cries for help from the man in his 50s. They saw him clinging to a buoy and took him ashore. He was handed over to the care of the ambulance service. He was transferred to Altnagelvin Hospital. He has since been discharged.

Volunteers from Greencastle Coastguard, some of whom had been working in nearby Malin town, commenced an immediate shore search. The 118 helicopter then located the 16-year-old boy in the water. He was airlifted and taken to Altnagelvin Hospital. He sadly passed away.

Mr Joyce said that the capsized boat and debris trail were located around half a mile from Portronana Pier. The RNLI, Coastguard and local boats immediately began a search of the surrounding area. In conjunction, a shore search got underway by members of Greencastle Coastguard and An Garda Siochana, assisted by members of the public.

Mr Joyce described the terrain as “very difficult” and “treacherous” and added that there was an expanse of shoreline due to the tide being out.

The third man was then spotted on rocks near Banba’s Crown (The Tower) by the public, who alerted the emergency services. Two members of the RNLI swam out to the location to aid the coastguard. Due to the nature of the terrain the decision was taken to stretcher the man to the road, which was a “difficult task.” A doctor at the scene pronounced the man dead and he was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital for a post-mortem.

Local boats, in conjunction with the RNLI, took the capsized vessel to Malin pier, where it was recovered by the RNLI and local fishermen on to a trailer, before being handed over to Gardai.

Mr Joyce expressed the sympathies of the Lough Swilly RNLI to the families of the men. He also thanked the local fishermen who responded to the request for assistance.

Around 40 emergency personnel were involved in the operation.