The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust has confirmed it has stepped in to assist the family of champion Irish rower Ailish Sheehan in returning her body home to Co Limerick.
A GoFundMe page, which has raised more than its initial target of $10,000 (about €8,900) has also been set up set up in memory of Ms Sheehan, who died in Poland following a fall last Friday.
Last Sunday week, the Kildimo athlete won bronze in the women’s senior coxed fours final at the FISU World University Championships in Poznan — however later the same evening, while out celebrating her victory, she fell and hit her head suffering catastrophic injuries.
Ailish, 23, passed away last Friday, surrounded by her parents John and Catherine, and her siblings Niamh and Aine, after spending six days on a life-support machine in a Polish hospital.
Her devastated family are in the process of arranging to have her body flown home for burial.
A GoFundMe account was opened in the United States by Ailish’s former college roommate at Notre Dame, Emily Mediate.
“We set up the fund just to try to honour Ailish in some way. It was difficult for her Notre Dame ‘family’ to feel so far away from her in Poland during the last few days, so this was our way of commemorating her,” she said on Monday.
Ms Mediate added in a posting via the Caring Bridge website: “We will pass on information about a celebration of [Ailish’s] life as it comes in. In lieu of flowers, we have set up a GoFundMe page to defray the cost of the family’s extended stay in Poland and to contribute to any final celebrations for Ailish in Ireland and elsewhere.
“Though her light is extinguished, all those who knew and loved [Ailish] know that we carry it within us now and forever.”
The Irish tricolour flew at half mast at the offices of Limerick city and county council as a mark of respect for the Limerick athlete.
Colin Bell, of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, said the organisation has offered financial assistance to the Sheehan family to help them bring Ailish’s remains home.
“We’ll make the arrangements for the repatriation. We’ll pay for the repatriation,” Mr Bell said.
An autopsy was to be performed yesterday in Poland.
Mr Bell added: “There will be a couple of days getting paperwork sorted, so I would expect arrangements would not be made until towards the end of the week, possibly.”
Ailish’s heartbroken parents and siblings returned to Ireland last Saturday night.
A family friend said the Sheehans were “very appreciate” to everyone who had offered their support.
“Everybody is chipping in and carrying them along after what they have been through,” the friend added.
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