Call for more volunteers, boats to help with search

PEOPLE leading the search for the body of the student who drowned saving two swimmers appealed last night for more volunteers and boats. The full-scale sea, shore and cliff search for the body of Jonathan Herlihy will enter its sixth day today along the West Cork coast.

Jonathan, aged 22, from Glanmire, Cork, was swept away with Peter O’Keeffe on Sunday after they saved two swimmers at Owenahincha beach. But last night, Lieutenant Commander Aidan Cleary, captain of the LE Aoife and on-scene search coordinator, said more trawlers were needed.

Diesel and petrol is being provided free of charge from a tanker on Rosscarbery pier. Three fishing boats, The Gaia, which found the body of Peter O’Keeffe, the Coral Strand and the Arron H, have been trawling Rosscarbery Bay every day since Sunday. Lt Cmmdr Cleary said more trawlers would help widen the search.

“We could certainly use more, especially those with VHF radio and radar,” he said.

While the search is being conducted along a 20-mile stretch of coastline between Toe Head and the Old Head of Kinsale, the trawling is focused on Rosscarbery Bay, close to where Mr O’Keeffe’s body was recovered.

However, the navy may move the focus of their operations eastwards towards the Old Head of Kinsale today. High tides predicted for this weekend could also help. Brian Lotty is helping with the coordination of the search. He said people remained hopeful that Jonathan’s body would be found soon.

“Every day we’re hopeful,” he said. “But I would appeal for more trawlers and more volunteers. We have arranged shifts and lunch breaks for volunteers and diesel for trawlers and petrol for jet skis has been kindly sponsored.”

Up to 20 vessels were involved in search operations yesterday including canoes, kayaks, jet skis, and pleasure boats. One vessel equipped with underwater cameras searched the sea-bed. A civilian helicopter hovered along the coastline for several hours. Civil defence team leaders led cliff and shore searches and numerous caves were also searched.

Garda and navy divers carried out dives and are due to dive again today. Lt Cmmdr Cleary said the naval service would stay in the area as long as required.

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