Irish Coast Guard accepts findings of Caitríona Lucas death inquest

Married mother of two died from drowning during a search and rescue operation

The Irish Coast Guard has said it accepts the findings of the inquest into the death seven years ago of Doolin Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas and is taking time to reflect on its findings.

Seven recommendations on safety and other matters were made by the jury, which returned a verdict of misadventure on Thrusday

Ms Lucas (41), a married mother of two, died from drowning during a search and rescue operation on September 12th 2016. Death was pronounced at University Hospital Limerick after she was winched from the sea by helicopter.

She had been asked to assist Kilkee Coast Guard in an ongoing search and rescue operation when the boat she was in was hit by a wave and capsized shortly after 1pm that Monday. A head injury was a contributory factor, the inquest was told. The helmet she was wearing did not remain on when the boat capsized. Her drysuit had also taken in water, the inquest was told.


The jury in Kilmallock, Co Limerick, on Thursday evening returned a verdict of misadventure, after an inquest lasting four days and hearing from 28 witnesses.

The jury recommended a suite of measures, among which were specific training for capsize incidents, an ongoing review of suitability of all safety gear and the establishment of an appropriate centralised safety management portal for identified risk issues on a confidential basis;

The Irish Coast Guard should consider ongoing training for the officer-in-charge (OIC) and deputy OIC “as appropriate” at units, the recommendations also said.

In a statement, issued on Friday by the Department of Transport, the Irish Coast Guard thanked Limerick coroner John McNamara and the seven-person jury for the work and time they dedicated to this inquest.

They accept the findings that have been made, the statement said.

“Ms Lucas was a very highly regarded and valued member of the Doolin Unit of the Irish Coast Guard who tragically lost her life in the course of duty. We would like to extend our condolences to Ms Lucas’s family and friends on their enormous loss,” the statement said.

“Our priority at all times is the safety of our volunteers who save the lives of others.”

“Following Ms Lucas’s death, both the HSA (Health and Safety Authority) and the MCIB (Marine Casualty Investigations Board) have conducted reviews into the incident and the Irish Coast Guard has worked to implement the recommendations stemming from both of these reports,” it continued.

The Coast Guard said it would now take time to reflect on the recommendations that have been made by this inquest.