Student, 20, becomes eighth person to drown in matter of weeks

A 20-year-old student drowned in Killarney, Co Kerry, last evening, bringing to eight the number of people who have drowned during the current spell of warm weather.

Lough Lein (file photo)

The student died in Lough Lein, largest of the lakes of Killarney, after he and a friend set out to swim from Reen Point, near Ross Castle, to Heron Island.

He was named locally as Cian O’Donoghue.

The friend made it to the island and, it is understood, he could see no trace of Mr O’Donoghue when he looked back for him. Local residents said that the water is shallow in the area and lake levels have fallen dramatically in the past two weeks.

Valentia Coastguard Station received an emergency call at 5.20pm and a rescue operation was launched, involving a helicopter from Shannon Marine Rescue, Killarney Water Rescue, Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue, and the coastguard.

The body was recovered by scuba divers at around 7.45pm.

The drowning comes in the wake of a statement from Irish Water Safety chief executive John Leech that many Irish people are not used to swimming in open water.

“One of the reasons we’re losing all these youngish people is because a whole generation haven’t learned to swim in open water,” he said.

Mr Leech added that 62% of all drownings happen in open water and that 32% of victims have consumed alcohol.

He said on average about 140 people drown in Ireland every year, but the number was likely to be higher in 2013.

“Even in the summer of 1995 — the hottest since 1962 — we didn’t lose anything like this.

“We’re not out of July yet and we’ve lost a lot of people.”

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