FATE SAVED SON

THE SON of one of the men who perished in the fishing tragedy off West Cork should have been aboard the ill-fated fishing vessel — but decided at the last minute to help a neighbouring farmer “save the hay”.

According to locals, Richard Harman’s son, William, would have been with his dad and his friends, Mike Schmidt, Wolfgang Schroder and Eddie Dzito, but for a promise he’d made to farmer Jimmy Whooley.

The two spent the evening in a field harvesting hay just 500 metres from where the tragedy occurred.

Last night, William Harman was being comforted by his friends.

According to initial Garda investigations, the blaze that caused the 24-foot pleasure cruiser, Castaway, to sink was not the result of an explosion.

It is believed the fire began behind the cruiser’s console and spread at high speed, causing the men to jump overboard. Marine casualty investigations are examining whether the blaze was started by an electrical fault.

The boat burst into flames close to Roancarrig Lighthouse off Adrigole on the Beara Peninsula at about 5.45pm on Monday.

The sole survivor, Eddie Dzito, told the helicopter crew who winched him to safety on Monday evening that the four-man crew tried to fight they blaze but couldn’t.

None of the crew were wearing lifejackets and Irish Water Safety has urged all pleasure boaters to remember the importance of flotation devices, no matter how calm the weather and experienced the crew.

Postmortem examinations took place yesterday on the bodies of the three men, who were pronounced dead at Cork University Hospital.

In Glengarriff, there was a palpable sense of mourning, with locals describing the four men as a “gentlemen’s fishing club”.

One local said the deceased “were the town characters and will be sorely missed”.

In the Cottage Bar in Glengarriff, owner Pat Somers said that Richard, Mike and Wolfgang (known to everyone as Ziggy) were known in bars across the village as “great lovers of the sea”.

There was also huge sympathy for Eddie Dzito, the American who lived close to Mike Schmidt in Glengarriff, and who was the only person to survive the tragedy.

Across the town everyone was inquiring about him, with many worried how the 46-year-old will cope with the loss of his friends.

Eddie was being looked after at home yesterday by his wife, Judy, and was described as being “in a deep state of shock”. He was released from hospital yesterday morning.

Mr Harman’s funeral service is due to take place at 2pm on Friday. His removal will take place tomorrow at 7pm from Coakley’s Funeral Home in Bantry to St Brendan’s Church in Bantry.

It is understood that a special farewell service for Mr Schmidt and Mr Schroder is likely to be held in Glengarriff later this week.

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