Belfast Telegraph

Irishman, 19, who died in Ecuador kayaking accident was ‘absolute gentleman’

Searches continue for a second Irishman caught up in the accident.

A young Irish man who died in Ecuador in a kayaking accident has been described as an “absolute gentleman”.

Alex McGourty, 19, from Sligo was “fulfilling his dreams” kayaking in the country when he died after getting into difficulty in the river Abanico.

A second Irish man, David Higgins, who had been kayaking with Mr McGourty and a group of three others, has been reported missing.

Sligo Kayak Club, of which Mr McGourty was a trainee instructor, said the young man “died while fulfilling his dreams, kayaking in Ecuador.”

It is with profound sadness we announce the passing of club member and trainee-instructor Alex McGourty. Alex tragically…

Posted by Sligo Kayak Club on Sunday, January 21, 2018

In a post on Facebook the club said they believe the whole team had been caught by a flash flood.

The club added: “It is with profound sadness we announce the passing of club member and trainee-instructor Alex McGourty. Alex tragically died while fulfilling his dreams, kayaking in Ecuador.

“The club would like to extend our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to Alex’s parents Frankie and Eilish, his family and his friends. Alex will be greatly missed by all in Sligo Kayak Club.

“He was one of the finest young men we had the honour of knowing and paddling with.”

The club also said their prayers go out to Mr Higgins and his family.

“He is currently missing as well as two Ecuadorians. Their empty kayaks have been found. One member of the expedition has been found alive.

“We believe the whole team was caught by a flash flood in a very remote part of Ecuador,” they added.

Call Of The Wild activity store, of which Mr McGourty was an ambassador, Tweeted of their sadness at the news of his death.

“Our sympathies to the family of Alex McGourty who has died tragically following his dreams in South America. We are deeply saddened by this news.

“Alex was an absolute gentleman and a massive credit to his parents,” the store said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland said it was aware of both cases and that consular assistance was being provided.

Mr McGourty is a past pupil of Summer Hill College in Sligo.

In 2016 he received a one-year scholarship to the World Class Kayak Academy in Washington.

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