Lough Ree: One man dies, another missing after boat sinks
- 21 March 2014
- From the section Northern Ireland
A man from Northern Ireland, who was on a fishing trip, has died after being rescued from a lake in the Republic of Ireland.
He has been named locally as David Warnock who was originally from Armagh, but lived in Richhill.
Another NI man is critically ill after being rescued from Lough Ree, County Westmeath, on Thursday.
A search for a third NI man, who is still missing after their boat sank, has been hampered by poor weather.
The men, from a County Armagh angling club, had been planning to camp on an island when they got into difficulties.
Members from Lough Ree RNLI, police and dive teams and local fishermen have been searching for the missing man.
The man who is missing is from Portadown and has several young children. The man who is critically ill is about 60, and has three sons.
The Ulster Unionist deputy mayor of Craigavon, Colin McCusker, is a relative of Mr Warnock, a father-of-one, who was in his 20s.
He said the family circle had been left "absolutely devastated" by the news.
"I found out last night at half ten that this had happened," he said.
"I got another text message at half four this morning and then just at nine o'clock this morning I found out that one of the young men who had just died is a relative of mine.
"Words can't describe how we're all feeling at the minute, there are young children involved who are going to be left without a father and we're just devastated.
The search operation for the missing man, led by the Irish coastguard, was stood down on Thursday night.
Damien Delaney, RNLI operations manager at Lough Ree said the search resumed between 07:30 and 08:00 GMT on Friday.
"We'll go back to the search area again, where we left off yesterday evening, start again at View Point, we'll be assisted by people from Athlone Sub Aqua and Lanesborough Sub Aqua and some local anglers," he said.
"There was a lot of debris in the water, fishing stuff and containers floating.
"There was quite a long trail of debris leading right across the lake for a distance of about two miles, so we'll be following that trail area today."
Mr Delaney said the search teams were holding onto hope that the missing man had made it ashore.
"We'll be concentrating on the shore area as well. We're reluctant to speculate, we just live in hope that he's alive somewhere," he said.
Martin McEnroe, from the Angling Council of Ireland, knows the lough well. His son raised the alarm after becoming concerned.
"Six gentlemen came down from the north of the country to enjoy a few days fishing in Lough Ree," he said.
"Three of them left earlier and went up to a point they had agreed to camp out for a few days
"The others stayed back and loaded up their boat and headed out.
"There was concerns about them going out and the alarm was raised and very quickly the RNLI came on the scene, but unfortunately the accident had happened at that stage.
"They appear to have had quite a bit of gear in the boat, weather conditions weren't conducive to going out."
Mr McEnroe said weather conditions in Lough Ree could be very deceptive.
"If you look out on the day here, you can see it's quite calm here, but when you go the corner of the point, it's pretty rough out there," he said.
"It's blowing a force five out there today, you can just imagine the size of the waves out there."
He said the local community had been left "shocked" and "saddened" by what has happened.
"It's the first time a major tragedy of this kind happened with anglers on this lake, so our hearts and thoughts go out to the families of those people who have been lost in this accident," he said.
Emergency services were called out at 15:20 GMT on Thursday.
An RNLI lifeboat recovered the first man, semi-conscious in the water, at about 16:00 GMT. The second man was found at about 17:15 GMT.
Conditions on the lake were described as gusty at the time of the incident.
Richie O'Hara from the nearby Bay Sports Centre said the alarm was raised by other anglers the men were due to meet.
"Two of the party called into our centre and they were quite concerned about three of their party who they had arranged to meet further up the lake," he said.
"When they hadn't arrived as planned, those two gentleman who called in came back down the lake looking for them."