Belfast Telegraph

Mum's anguished vigil as hunt goes on for body of son who drowned near Portrush

BY MICHELLE SMYTH

The mother of the missing Polish man who drowned off the north coast after being swept off rocks last Saturday made a heartbreaking journey to the place he was last seen.

Even wrapped in a thick black, grey and white checked coat and scarf, Irena Andrykiewicz looked chilled to the bone and devastated as she stood waiting on the shore in Portrush for news about her son Jaroslaw, who was swept out to sea during a fishing trip with friends at Ramore Head.

A friend, also a Polish native who had accompanied him and another man on the fishing trip, had tried in vain to rescue him.

The search recommenced yesterday morning after being called off on Sunday because of the harsh weather conditions.

Irena arrived in the country with the missing man's brother on Wednesday.

Despite being joined by members of the Polish community from Moy, near Dungannon, where 38-year-old had been living, she cut a lonely figure standing with her hands clasped tightly together as she watched the Coastguard scour the surrounding area for her loved one.

The missing man's father and his teenage daughter also wait back home in Poland for news.

The best the family can hope for now is that his body is recovered and returned to them for burial.

Mr Andrykiewicz, a divorced father-of-one, came to Northern Ireland six years ago from his home near Bydgoszcz.

He worked at Gilfresh Produce in Loughhall, Co Armagh, where he had just been promoted to a new supervisory role.

His boss William Gilpin described him as an "outstanding employee".

The Honorary Consul for Poland in Northern Ireland, Jerome Mullen, said the family was "devastated".

"This was a very wonderful young man who was hard-working and, I'm told, he was an extremely happy, optimistic and smiling chap who had loads of friends and was very popular among his compatriots," Mr Mullan said.

"His friends have described him as a fun-loving character who loved life, football and was passionate about fishing.

"His promotion was a reflection of how capable he was.

"He was very well thought of at the highest level."

The missing man's family have been given accommodation in the Moy and are are being supported by Gilpin's, which hired a minibus to take them to Portrush to lay flowers.

The consul will continue to liaise with police and the Coastguard during the recovery operation.

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