Daughter loses fight to rescue father

A woman clung desperately to save her drowning father before he was torn from her grasp by a swollen river.

Julian Hart, 73, from Dalkey in Dublin, drowned after falling into the Avoca River while on a family picnic with his daughter, Eileen, and his three grandchildren at The Meeting of the Waters beauty spot in Co Wicklow on Saturday.

He suffered a suspected heart attack and fell into the river at Thomas Moore Park.

Eileen immediately dived into the raging river in a desperate bid to save her father.

Shocked witnesses said she managed to grab her father, and hold on to him for several seconds as they were swept almost 100 metres downstream.

But despite her heroic efforts, the fast-flowing river, in flood after several days of heavy rain, tore Mr Hart from her arms, and he was swept away.

Exhausted and distraught, Eileen was helped from the river by members of the public close to The Meetings pub.

She received medical treatment and was comforted by pub owner Colin Moore and his staff.

Mr Moore said everyone was in deep shock after the tragedy.

“The staff at the pub did not feel like working after what had happened,” he said.

A Coast Guard helicopter was deployed to help the search for the body which involved gardaí, Coast Guard ground units, members of the local Civil Defence, and Arklow sea scouts.

Mr Hart’s body was spotted by the helicopter crew about an hour later in the river just outside Woodenbridge Golf Club, and was recovered.

The body was removed to Tallaght Hospital for an autopsy.

Meanwhile, the funeral will take place today of the 44-year-old father-of-three who died on Lough Derg last week.

Pat Danaher, a painting contractor who lived at Nancy’s Well, Ogonnelloe, Co Clare, died after his 20ft speedboat ran aground on rocks and capsized last Thursday.

His upturned boat was discovered late on Thursday night and his body was recovered by divers on Friday.

Gardaí and the Marine Casualty Investigation Bureau will conduct separate probes into the tragedy, however, gardaí have confirmed they are treating the death as a tragic accident.

“Pat’s tragic death is an awful loss to his family and the local community,” said Ogonnelloe parish priest Fr Donagh O’Meara.

“Pat was a great character, larger than life, and the community is still in shock at the news.”

Mr Danaher, who was originally from Ballinacurra Gardens in Limerick, is survived by his wife Pauline, their children Rachel, Laura, and Leo, his parents Bridie and Tony, and sisters Monique, Samantha, Sonia, and Natasha.


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