Lough Ree search team alerted by concerned local even before boat capsized

Searchers for a missing angler whose friend died after their boat capsized on Lough Ree have said they were called to the scene by a local person concerned for the men's welfare.

The local person spoke to the three anglers as they were heading out on the lake in Co Westmeath, and was worried about deteriorating weather conditions.

The local RNLI search crew launched about 4pm yesterday before receiving any report of an accident or a boat capsizing.

“The boat was on the water before anything happened. It was a precautionary measure because a member of the public expressed concern about the men leaving Hodson Bay,” a spokesman said.

Two men were rescued from the lake yesterday afternoon. One died last night in hospital and the other is critically ill. The search for the third man resumed shortly after 8am this morning, with Lough Ree RNLI, sub-aqua units from Athlone and Lanesborough and local anglers taking part.

Conditions were believed to be poor yesterday afternoon when the party of six set out in two boats from the Hodson Bay area.

They were using two 15ft Dell Quay Dory flat-bottomed vessels which were heavily laden with fishing and camping gear, much of which was found strewn across the lough during the search.

The men, all believed to be from an angling club in Armagh and who knew the area, were planning to travel about five miles to the Carna area or an island on the lough for a camping and pike-fishing trip.

It is thought the two boats, one of which turned back to shore a short distance into the journey, were hit by localised squalls.

Liam Sheringham, of the RNLI crew, said a large amount of gear was found in the water after the alarm was raised.

“The boats are Dell Quay Dory double-skinned boats, and they would be considered relatively unsinkable but up to last night it had not been found,” he said. “They had a big load on the boat.”

Mr Sheringham said the men had spoken to locals about the weather before they set out.

Lough Ree RNLI launched at 4pm yesterday after the alarm was raised.

Two of the men – the one who subsequently died and another in his 50s – were pulled from the water and taken to shore within an hour and a half.

A Garda spokesman said the dead man had been transferred to University Hospital Galway last night in a critical condition but died in intensive care.

Damien Delaney, operations manager of Lough Ree RNLI, said last night: “This was a major search and rescue operation on Lough Ree involving the RNLI, Coast Guard, Athlone Sub Aqua, Lanesborough Sub Aqua, and other local boats.

“Our thoughts are with the men’s families.”

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