Union Hall searcher dies in fall while installing stairs

Two investigations have been launched following the death of a father-of-three who just a few weeks ago took part in the major search following the sinking of the trawler Tit Bonhomme.

Kevin Hodnett, 29, was installing stairs in a newly built house in West Cork when he fell and died. The accident happened at 8.30am yesterday at Lowertown, Schull.

Mr Hodnett, who was living in Goleen, was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was taken to Cork University Hospital for an autopsy.

Gardaí sealed off the house for technical examinations, which will form part of the file they will present to an inquest.

They also informed the Health and Safety Authority, which will carry out a separate investigation.

Mr Hodnett had spent many years as a volunteer with the Irish Coast Guard’s Goleen unit and recently took part in searches for the bodies of the five crewmen who drowned when the Tit Bonhomme hit rocks and sank near Union Hall.

Cllr Dermot Sheehan (FG), who is also a member of the Goleen unit, said people in the area were shocked and devastated.

“All of Kevin’s friends are totally stunned,” he said.

“Kevin was a very sincere and dedicated young man. If you wanted a role model then you’d pick Kevin.”

He said the thoughts of the community were with Kevin’s wife, Pauline, his young son, Tomás, and the couple’s recently born twins, Grace-Marie and Abby.

“The twins are only a few months old and I know the thoughts of everybody in the Mizen peninsula are with them, their brother and mother and all of Kevin’s other relatives at this most tragic time.”

It is understood Kevin had been a member of the Goleen coast guard unit for about 10 years and had selflessly given his time voluntarily on many occasions to help in search and rescue efforts in the south-west region.

Cllr Sheehan said: “He was a very dedicated member of the coast guard. Only recently he completed a special boat [training] course at the RNLI headquarters in Poole, Dorset [England].

“The coast guard is like a family too, so all the members of it are very upset. But obviously our prayers are foremost with Kevin’s wife, his children, his mother, brother and four sisters at this time.”

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