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Dad and son lost in Donegal fishing tragedy on visit to new holiday home

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Members of the Coastguard search Lough Keel

Members of the Coastguard search Lough Keel

Members of the Coastguard search Lough Keel

A father and son who died in a drowning tragedy in Co Donegal were renovating their holiday home.

The men perished at Lough Keel on the outskirts of Kilmacrennan on Thursday afternoon.

The father was aged in his early 50s while his son was aged 17.

They are understood to have been living in Douglas on the Isle of Man.

The victims, along with another 15-year-old son, had taken a break from renovations at the holiday home at Coolboy on the outskirts of Letterkenny to go fishing.

However, shortly before 3pm the 17-year-old fell into the lough by accident and his father jumped in to try and save him.

Both tragically drowned and the youngest boy survived.

Irish Water employees working nearby raised the alarm and a massive search and rescue operation involving the Rescue 118 helicopter, Mulroy Coastguard, gardai and ambulance personnel was then launched.

The body of the younger man was spotted by the Rescue 118 helicopter and recovered not long after the tragedy occurred.

Divers from the Sheephaven Sub-Aqua Unit recovered the remains of the second man after 6pm on Thursday.

It is understood that other members of the family, including the dead man's wife, were due to arrive in Donegal today.

The remains of both victims are still at Letterkenny University Hospital where post-mortems are due to be carried out.

Local county councillor Ian McGarvey said thoughts and prayers were with the young man who had survived the tragedy and the extended family of the men who had drowned.

"People are numb that two lives have been taken in this manner following such a simple thing like a fishing trip," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time. Lough Keel is a beautiful part of our county and for this to happen in such a scenic and peaceful place just makes it so wrong on all fronts.

Local councillor Michael McBride said there is a "dark cloud" hanging over the area as the community reels from the tragedy.

"People are understandably saddened and shocked over what has happened," he said. "For a family day out to end up like this is just unthinkable.

"The family had only moved to the area in the past few weeks so it was an unfortunate beginning to their new life in Ireland.

"I understand they were fishing from the shore and got into difficulty.

"The coastguard and authorities were on the scene very quickly and managed to find the two bodies and pull the other son to safety.

"It is very traumatic for the son who survived the incident and the community wish him a speedy recovery.

"On behalf of Kilmacrennan I want to offer my condolences to the man's family and let them know we are united in our grief."

The Garda investigation into the tragedy is still ongoing.


Belfast Telegraph