Missing man found on island off Clare after boat capsized


A MAN is recovering in hospital after a wave capsized his boat, forcing him to swim more than 500m in rough seas to a tiny island off the Co Clare coast.

A search was launched at about 5.30pm yesterday after the man in his 40s was reported overdue in his rigid inflatable boat (rib).

After more than three hours, he was spotted on Mutton Island off the village of Quilty without his boat.

Conditions along the west coast were described as rough at the time, with poor visibility and strong southwesterly onshore winds.

The man, understood to be a member of Limerick Sub-aqua Club, had earlier taken a group diving between Quilty and Doonbeg.

It’s known he dropped club members back to Quilty and was last seen at 4.30pm when he left to return to Doonbeg.

He was due to be collected at Doonbeg pier at 5pm. However, when there was no sign of him by 5.15pm, the alarm was raised.

At about 5.30pm, the Irish Coast Guard station at Valentia Island in Co Kerry broadcast a radio message to all vessels in the area requesting them to keep a sharp lookout for the missing man.

In the meantime, the Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter was scrambled from its base at Shannon Airport while Kilkee Marine Rescue Service was also alerted and requested to proceed to the search area.

The Doolin unit of the Coast Guard launched two boats and raced to the scene while their colleagues from Kilkee travelled by road and carried out searches of the coastline.

At about 7.45pm, members of the Doolin Coast Guard unit observed a person on Mutton Island off Quilty. He appeared to be waving and trying to attract their attention.

The rescue helicopter winched a crew member down to the island and confirmed that it was the missing man.

The man was airlifted to Shannon Airport from where he was taken to the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick for treatment.