Latest: Irishman, 19, who died in Eduador kayaking accident was 'absolute gentleman'; second Irish man still missing

Latest: Irishman, 19, who died in Eduador kayaking accident was 'absolute gentleman'; second Irish man still missing
Alex McGourty. Photo: Facebook

Update 12pm: 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."

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, shared 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.

Tributes have been flooding in on Facebook from friends of Mr McGourty.

Barry Mottershead wrote: "So sad, I paddled with Alex a few times and we guided groups together on a few occasions. He was a solid guy, raised well, kind and hard working.

"His energy for life was infectious and it's sad to see him gone too soon, but on the up side he spent his life and particularly the last few years living the dream, something we can all aspire to. RIP brother."

Martin Duffy said: "Very very sad news - Alex was a truly outstanding young man - a credit to his parents and himself and a huge loss to the paddling community - RIP Alex you will be missed".

Ursula Gilrane wrote: "Such a tragic loss of a young life. What a brave and courageous young man."

Blaine Gaffney said: "Horrible news. Had the world at his feet. His dad was so proud of his achievements in Kayaking and all he had done in the US and abroad."

Earlier 7.09am: Irishman who died after water sports accident in Ecuador named; second Irish man still missing

A young Irish man has died after being caught up in a flash-flood while kayaking in Equador.

19-year-old Alex McGourty from Sligo was among a group who got into difficulty in the River Abanico.

A search is continuing for three other kayakers who are missing, while a fifth member of the group has been found alive.

A second Irishman, 26-year-old David Higgins from Kerry, is understood to be missing following the kayaking accident.

David Higgins. Photo: Facebook
David Higgins. Photo: Facebook

The Department of Foreign Affairs says it is aware of both cases and consular assistance is being provided.

- Digital Desk


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