Tributes to leading aviation figure Geoffrey O’Byrne-White following death

Tributes have been paid to a leading figure in Irish and international aviation who died from a suspected heart attack while swimming off Cork.

Geoffrey O’Byrne-White, 62, a former Air Corps pilot, former chief executive of CityJet, and a member of the Irish Aviation Authority, fell ill while swimming in Sandycove near Kinsale at around 6pm on Tuesday.

An IAA spokesman said the board, management, and staff were shocked to learn of his sudden death and extended their sympathies to his family and friends.

One of Mr O’Byrne-White’s daughters was canoeing nearby and his wife was watching from the shore when he was spotted slumped in the water.

Several people who were swimming nearby and a teenager on a paddle-board helped recover him ashore.

Bystanders began CPR and used a locally-based defibrillator to help him as two ambulances rushed to the scene.

Dr Michael Sheehan, a doctor in Cork University Hospital’s (CUH) emergency department who lives nearby, and Dr Hugh Doran of East Cork Rapid Response, arrived a short time later. They performed CPR during the five-minute flight on board Rescue 117 which airlifted him to CUH but he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The water was cold at the time but he had been wearing a wetsuit. It is believed he had a pre-existing heart condition and may have suffered a cardiac arrest.

Mr O’Byrne-White, who had moved to Kinsale from Malta about two weeks ago with the intention of living there, started his career flying fast jets with the Irish Air Corps and was named head of operations for the Government Air Transport Service in 1985.

He later moved to the PARC Group, becoming director of PARC Aviation where he established and expanded its maintenance and consultancy divisions.

He was chief executive of CityJet from 2000 to 2010 and oversaw its fleet expansion from five to 45 aircraft, and was appointed to the IAA board in 2011, working in pilot training in recent years.

He is survived by his wife, Nicole, daughters Elise and Lexie, and brothers Derek and Peter.

Requiem Mass will be celebrated at 11am on Friday in St John the Baptist Church, Kinsale, with cremation at a later time.

His family has asked that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the RNLI and Sandycove Swimmers.

Man’s death believed to be accidental

Gardaí are treating as accidental the death of a man who was found on a street in Kinsale town centre.

The victim, named locally last night as Jason Connolly, 45, with an address in the town, was found lying on St John’s Hill, at the base of a high wall in front of the town’s outdoor education centre, at around 3.30pm on Tuesday.

He was pronounced dead at the scene and the area was sealed off for a technical examination by Garda forensic experts.

The man’s remains were removed to Cork University Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

While the results have not been released, it is understood he had injuries consistent with a fall from a height.

Supt Brendan Fogarty said gardaí are satisfied from initial enquiries that no foul play was involved and they are treating the death as a tragic accident.

He said a Garda file is now being prepared for the coroner’s court.


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