Belfast Telegraph

Angler tried to save his pals from blazing motor cruiser

An angler who survived the boat tragedy in which his three best friends were killed made desperate efforts to save them, it emerged yesterday.

Edward ‘Ed' Dziato (46) tried to extinguish a fire on the motor cruiser, Castaway, and then battled to save his three friends from drowning. “He tried to save them all,” his wife Judy said yesterday.

The fire is believed to have sparked a violent explosion on board the 25ft-long craft which later sank during the deep sea fishing trip.

The four were winched out of the sea by the Coast Guard's Waterford-based Sikorsky helicopter shortly before 6pm on Monday. But Wolfgang ‘Mike' Schmidt (64), Richard Harman (69) and Wolfgang ‘Ziggi' Schroder (60) were pronounced dead on shore.

Mr Harman — a native of Adrigole in Cork — was due to celebrate his 70th birthday next week. Mr Schmidt moved to Ireland 20 years ago from Germany.

Mr Schroder moved to Ireland less than a decade ago from Germany and, unlike the other two deceased who lived in Glengarriff, lived at Saskia outside Bantry.

Mr Dziato was airlifted to hospital but was discharged yesterday after being treated for minor injuries, hypothermia and shock.

Last night, Mr Dziato's wife Judy appealed for privacy to allow him to deal with the trauma of losing three of his best friends.

“My husband is devastated,” she said from the family's Glengarriff home. “It is not easy for him — he has lost his best friends,” she said.

Mr Dziato — who moved from Connecticut to Cork four years ago — has been assisting gardai and Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) inspectors to piece together precisely what caused the tragedy. The Irish Coast Guard pilot who led the rescue, Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, said it was a miracle that anyone had survived the tragedy.

“We were very lucky that we were in the area quite close to the call. That is normally Shannon's patch,” he explained. “Even the guy that did survive, even though the (RNLI) lifeboat was en route, he didn't have a lot of time.”

The vessel — normally berthed at Bere Island marina — sank after blazing fiercely off the Roancarriag Lighthouse, 4km off shore.

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