Scouting chief to give evidence at inquest into teenager’s death

Aoife Winterlich died after being swept into sea off Hook Head on weekend excursion

Aoife Winterlich from Walkinstown, Dublin, was 14 years old when she died after a scouting trip in December 2015.

Aoife Winterlich from Walkinstown, Dublin, was 14 years old when she died after a scouting trip in December 2015.

 

The chief executive of Scouting Ireland will be called to give evidence at an inquest into the death of a 14-year-old girl on a scout trip.

Aoife Winterlich from Walkinstown, Dublin, died after she was swept into the sea off Hook Head, Co Wexford, on a weekend scouting trip. The teenager was rescued from the sea by the Irish Coast Guard, but died on December 11th, 2015, at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.

A date has been set for a full inquest into her death at which Scouting Ireland chief executive John Lawlor and a number of other witnesses will be called to give evidence.

Coroner Myra Cullinane told legal representatives for Scouting Ireland that she would like to hear evidence from Mr Lawlor about protocols around the supervision of groups of teenagers. Scouting Ireland is conducting an internal report into the incident at Hook Head, but this is not yet complete, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

Formal arrangements

The coroner wishes to hear from Mr Lawlor about the nature of his role, the nature of the trip in question, and what formal arrangements applied on the day.

A number of other witnesses will be called, including a meteorologist to outline the weather conditions at the time of the incident, two Coast Guard winchmen who took part in the rescue operation, two scout leaders present on the day, an eye-witness from the community and members of the adventure expedition.

Ms Winterlich was a member of the 55th South Circular Road scout group in Dublin. She was on a scouting trip when the incident occurred around 2pm on Sunday, December 6th, 2015.

Four young people were swept into the sea during a heavy swell in the aftermath of Storm Desmond. Two of the four made it back to shore, while two were winched to safety by a Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter.

Ms Winterlich fell into the sea as rescuers attempted to bring her on board the helicopter. She was immediately recovered from the sea and both teenagers were flown to hospital, arriving within 17 minutes of the initial call out.

The decisions made by a winchman during the rescue operation were “sound” in the circumstances, an investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Unit concluded in March.

Gardaí in New Ross investigated all aspects of the incident, examining photographs, maps, emergency rescue reports and CCTV footage in their preparation of a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The file was submitted to the DPP last August. No prosecution was directed.

The full inquest will take place at Dublin Coroner’s Court next September.