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Two dead, one missing after walkers swept into sea

By Ralph Riegel

Published 01/07/2015

Two people have died and a third person is missing feared drowned after a tragic coastal accident in west Cork
Two people have died and a third person is missing feared drowned after a tragic coastal accident in west Cork

Two people have died and a third person is missing feared drowned after a tragic coastal accident in west Cork.

The group were taking an evening seaside stroll along the rocks near the Beacon, outside Baltimore, when they were apparently swept into the sea by a freak wave.

The three were father Barry Ryan, aged in his 50s and originally from Baltimore, his son Barry David Ryan, aged in his 20s, and his girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor from Cork city, also in her 20s.

It is understood Mr Ryan’s teenage daughter was with the group when the accident occurred.

However, she was not swept into the sea and raised the alarm shortly before 6pm.

A huge rescue operation was launched, involving both the Irish Coastguard’s Waterford and Shannon-based Sikorsksy helicopters.

It was supported by three RNLI units, including the Baltimore lifeboat and the Union Hall craft.

The Irish Coastguard’s Toe Head rescue unit, and Schull community rescue boat, were also deployed.

Mr Ryan Snr and Ms O’Connor were recovered from the sea a short time later.

Both were given emergency medical treatment at the scene and air-lifted in a critical condition to Cork University Hospital (CUH) by an Irish Coastguard helicopter. But both were pronounced dead a short time later.

Mr Ryan, was originally from Dublin and is understood to have worked in the media in the past. Ms O’Connor was a student.

A second Irish Coastguard helicopter began sweeps of the coast for Mr Ryan Jnr, including the use of special infra-red cameras to detect body heat.

Divers began a careful examination of the nearby waters.

An early evening fog hampered search efforts. Last night the search operation was scaled back as darkness fell, but the search is expected to resume this morning.

One Baltimore RNLI volunteer, who asked not to be named, described the incident as “truly shocking”.

“Weather conditions were quite good down here at the time but the sea can be so very dangerous,” he said.

The area is a renowned local beauty spot and is popular with both anglers and walkers.

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