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Local fisherman found missing paddle boarders clinging to lobster pot

The women are now in the care of the HSE.

Stock image of RNLI lifeboat.
Stock image of RNLI lifeboat.
Image: Sam Boal

Updated Aug 13th 2020, 12:55 PM

A LOCAL FISHERMAN and his son found two missing paddle borders holding onto a lobster pot after a major search overnight in Galway Bay.

The alarm was raised at around 10pm last night when it was reported that two people on paddle-boards were missing at sea. It’s understood they are a teenage girl and a woman in her early 20s. 

The Irish Coast Guard says that the pair have been located and are now in the care of the HSE. 

A spokesperson for the RNLI said local fisherman Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who had joined the search, headed out on their boat earlier today to search near Inis Oírr.

“They spotted them clinging to a lobster pot and then I understand they brought them to Inis Oírr. They were then transferred from there by Coast Guard helicopter,” she said.

“It was all hands on deck, there was just a phenomenal response from the local community. It was a coordinated search, everyone was checking in about what areas to cover so they could cover as much area as possible.”

Speaking to RTÉ’s Liveline this afternoon, Oliver said they found the woman and teenager almost 20 miles out from where they had left on their paddle boards. 

“I’d say they hung on together throughout the night, which would be the best thing to do, so they didn’t separate” he said. He said they only saw the buoy for the lobster pot at daylight this morning and paddled towards it. 

They were good [when they were found], they were waving their paddles in the air, they had us spotted and they were waving. We came alongside then, they are weak and tired, of course, but they were sitting up and there was a bit of chat out of them.

He said they were “very shook, but thankful” when they were brought on board his fishing vessel. 

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughten today praised all of those involved in the search for their speedy response and quick thinking. 

“The appreciation of the work of our emergency services can be heard in the shared sigh of relief not just across Galway, but indeed nationwide, as the good news reached us this afternoon,” she said.

“Thankfully this most recent event has had a happy ending; however, it is imperative for us all to be vigilant of the sea and the elements as we enjoy our coastline during the fine weather.”

The Galway RNLI lifeboat was first launched and requested to commence a search in the area off Furbo in Galway.

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Soon afterwards, the Aran Islands RNLI lifeboat was tasked to assist in the operation while the Costello Bay (Galway) and Doolin (Clare) units of the Coast Guard launched their search boats and have been searching their respective coastlines. 

The Shannon-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 115, was scrambled to carry out a search of the bay while Rescue 118 from Sligo also tasked. 

In a statement this morning, the Irish Coast Guard said that the two females aged 17 and 23 were paddle boarding when they were reported overdue last night at 10.05pm just off Furbough, Co Galway.

All available Air and Marine Rescue assets were utilised in the search and the Coast Guard liaised with An Garda Síochana at Salthill. 

With reporting by Conor McCrave and Michelle Hennessy.

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