Three men involved in the search for two missing fishermen in Co Clare had a lucky escape after their boat capsized in rough seas and only one of their life jackets inflated.
All three clung together hoping the one flotation device would save them but they were spotted by two members of Kilkee Marine Rescue Service who raced to their assistance on a jet ski.
The incident happened while the bodies of Quilty fishermen Michael Galvin and Noel Dickenson were being recovered from their boat which sank on Monday afternoon.
The three good samaritans named as Patrick Quinlivan, Patrick Morrisson and Brian O’Brien, travelled to Spanish Point early yesterday to assist in the search for the missing men.
At about 12.30pm, while they were returning to the Whitestand after helping with the search, their 17-foot fibreglass boat was turned sideways after being struck by a freak wave before a second wave capsized the boat tossing them into the sea.
Kilkee Marine Rescue Service volunteers Fiona Kenny and Oisin Keane who had been operating a jet ski in the area spotted the drama unfold and raced to the scene off Freagh Point.
The pair braved rising seas and 6ft swells to reach the three men, who were clinging to a single life jacket, and helped them ashore. Back on terra firma, the men were assisted by members of the Killaloe unit of the Irish Coast Guard and taken by road to the pier at Whitestrand where members of the Garda Underwater Unit administered oxygen to one of the men until an ambulance arrived.
The three men were assessed by ambulance paramedics and provided with hot soup and blankets. One of the three, Patrick Quinlivan, 65, was taken to Ennis General Hospital for treatment.
Visibly shaken by their ordeal, one of the men said: “We’re grand, thank God. We were down to do our bit. We knew the two lads who were missing so we came down to help in the search.
“We were searching away when the boat was hit by a wave. It would shake you up but we’re okay. It happened so fast. We’ll be grand when we get out of the wet clothes and get some soup inside us,” he added.
The men were also lucky not to have been hit by their boat as it was tossed around by the sea. The outboard motor on the small craft was ripped off as the boat was battered by the waves.
Attempts to recover the boat were abandoned as conditions were too dangerous. The boat was later washed up onto the rocks.
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