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Kayakers urged to wear waterproof beacons after man's death

Published 10/09/2015

Investigators from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board said the teams were in a remote area and a lack of mobile phone coverage delayed the response from emergency services
Investigators from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board said the teams were in a remote area and a lack of mobile phone coverage delayed the response from emergency services

Kayakers and canoeists are being urged to wear waterproof radios and beacons on white water rivers after an experienced sportsman drowned on a mountain excursion.

Shane Murphy, 21, died while out with a group of friends on the fast-flowing and flooded Inchavore river in Co Wicklow last November after he got into difficulty in rapids.

Although he had not descended the river before he was said to be an experienced kayaker and was with a group of others who knew the water well.

Investigators from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) said the teams were in a remote area and a lack of mobile phone coverage delayed the response from emergency services.

While this did not play any part in Mr Murphy's death, the inquiry team said kayakers on excursions down intermediate, advanced, expert or extreme rivers should wear registered personal location beacons.

The MCIB said it would allow rescue teams to be alerted early.

The investigators also said kayak groups should consider using waterproof radios to communicate with each other while on white water and when out of sight.

Karl Dunne, Canoeing Ireland chief executive, said the recommendations were a sensible approach.

"Any recommendation that helps to save lives on rivers we would fully endorse," he said.

"A GPS beacon is like the avalanche finder - once it's deployed then the rescue services can pinpoint it accurately. Radios would also be a good idea - when the river is in flood you can't hear a thing, even from 10m away."

Investigators found Mr Murphy had followed two of his kayak group down a stretch of the Inchavore and attempted to enter a back eddy but missed the ingress point and was swept down river.

He was reportedly seen repeatedly capsizing and righting himself a number of times before he fell unconscious .

The MCIB said the kayakers were all appropriately kitted out for a descent of the Inchavore in two groups following heavy rains in mid-November last year.

The Inchavore near Lough Dan is classed grade four or five - advanced or expert - depending on the flow of w ater and it can only be descended in a kayak after about six hours of rain.

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