British rescue team recovers body of missing cave diver


SIX DAYS after Polish cave diver Artur Kozlowski was reported missing in a south Galway cave, a British rescue team brought his body to the surface at the weekend.

The highly risky and challenging operation concluded just before 5pm on Saturday, when the rescue team led by Coventry firefighter Rick Stanton and John Volanthen completed the last of a series of recovery dives at Pollonora in Kiltartan.

Mr Kozlowski’s body was taken for a postmortem yesterday at University Hospital Galway.

The team of three British experts, working with the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation and the Garda, had estimated last Friday that the slow and painstaking recovery could take several more days due to siltation in the cave system.

At that stage, Mr Kozlowski’s body had been taken halfway through the 800m (2,600ft) cavern.

Conditions had improved sufficiently on Saturday for a full recovery through the last 400m, according to Supt Pat Murray of Gort Garda station, who was supervising the effort on behalf of the Garda.

The British team had been flown in as part of an inter-governmental request, due to their international expertise. Mr Kozlowski’s mother and sister have travelled to Ireland, and prayers were said at the scene on Saturday evening by Fr Tommy Marrinan of Gort parish.

The Speleological Union of Ireland – the national organising body for caving – has offered its condolences to the cave diver’s family and friends.

In a statement, the union said “over the last few years Artur has been renowned for pushing Irish cave diving to its furthest limits.

“This is an unforgiving sport requiring extreme mental and physical fitness, but it was Artur’s passion.”

The national organising body added: “He had trained originally with the extremely experienced Welsh cave diver Martyn Farr and soon realised the potential for discovering new cave passage in Ireland, returning to and passing many of the limits of Martyn’s own Irish dives.

“Artur’s discoveries have filled the last two editions of Irish Speleology magazine, but his two record-breaking dives will probably be his long-standing legacy.

“In 2008 he achieved a record Irish and UK cave dive depth record of 103m in Co Mayo; and in 2010 the longest Irish and British underwater traverse of 4km in Co Galway.

“Artur’s life was devoted to cave diving. He died pursuing his dreams, exploring to the limits.”