Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Ballycastle cliff fall tourist dies in hospital after helicopter rescue attempt

Kenbane Head cliff in Ballycastle
Kenbane Head cliff in Ballycastle

A man has died after he was airlifted from the sea in a multi-agency air and sea search and rescue operation.

The 60-year-old had been out walking near Kenbane Head in Ballycastle when he slipped and fell in to the sea from a cliff on Saturday.

Local reports suggest that the man was an American tourist.

Members of his family raised the alarm and saw the scene unfold.

An immediate search and rescue operation of the area involving the RNLI, coastguards and local police started after 11am.

The Red Bay lifeboat crew located the man in the sea about a quarter of a mile offshore. He was found by the crew at around noon.

A spokesman for Red Bay RNLI, Paddy McLaughlin, said: "We launched immediately and started an immediate search.

"We located a man quite quickly. The paramedic from the Irish Coastguard helicopter came down to the lifeboat. He was winched down to try and treat the man.

"We airlifted him to casualty off the lifeboat and into the helicopter and took him to Causeway Hospital."

It was later confirmed that the man had died.

Councillor Padraig Pearse McShane said the community was "numbed" by the accident.

He called for a lifeboat to be stationed in Ballycastle.

"Our coastline is splendid and we want to make sure that visitors when they are attracted to it that they are given safe passage," he said.

"And to the best of anybody's ability charged with looking after the coastline, there are substantial warning systems in place for that to alert people to the dangers. Unfortunately you can't make it 100% safe."

He added: "The community locally here are numbed by it because in the living lifetime of anybody here they don't remember an incident like this."

"I'm calling for a lifeboat to be stationed in Ballycastle simply because of the volume of seafaring traffic that goes between Rathlin Island and Scotland to Ballycastle.

The independent councillor added: "Any coverage from lifeboats comes from Portrush or Cushendall, which both do an excellent job, but are 45 minutes away from our position by coast and that's on a pleasant day with good sea-faring weather."

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