Two divers died off Donegal coast within two weeks in separate accidents

John Allwright was sucked into an underground cave and struggled to get out

Coroner found Randy McNalley’s death was as a result of an accident. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

Coroner found Randy McNalley’s death was as a result of an accident. Photographer: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Two divers were killed within less than three weeks of each other during separate accidents off the coast of Co Donegal, inquests into their deaths have heard.

Both deaths occurred during the summer of 2017 and the victims were men from overseas who had been visiting Donegal to go diving, Donegal Coroner’s Court has heard.

The first inquest was that of John Allwright (57) of Vicarage Close, Langford, Bedfordshire in England.

The inquest heard how he was part of a dive group of seven who had left Downings Bay for Duncap Isle.

Mr Allwright had initially lost his diving mask while diving but had been given a replacement mask.

However, while passing through an underground cavern, he was sucked into an underground cave from which he struggled to get out.

Evidence was heard that he eventually got out of the cave and managed to get to the surface, but was exhausted.

Local diver, Declan Burke, who had accompanied the divers, said he had dived in this area at least 50 times before and was not aware of the cave that Mr Allwright got sucked into.

After Mr Allwright got to the surface, his fellow divers took him onto the dive boat and performed CPR, but were unable to revive him.

Diving instructor David Gration, gave evidence that Mr Allwright’s diving equipment had been in working order.

He added that his equipment would have weighed between 40k and 50k and that trying to raise himself out of the water would have been exhausting.

A pathology report showed Mr Allwright’s body had shown some small bruises to his forehead but that there was little sign of significant trauma.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said that having heard all the evidence he considered the death was a genuine accident.

He added that death was due to drowning, which was the result of an accident.

The second inquest concerned the death of Randy McNalley, a Canadian from Edmonton, Alberta.

Mr McNalley (63) was part of a group who had been diving off the wreck of the second World War vessel the MV Pinto which is located 25km north of Fanad Head, on August 14th, 2017.

The group had been diving for two hours at depths of up to 63 metres before they decided to resurface.

However, at 18 metres from the surface Mr McNalley, an experienced diver, lost contact with the group and did not resurface.

Visibility was poor and despite an immediate search of the area, Mr McNalley was not located.

A search team found his remains two days later.

Search recovery diver Colm Humphries said he found Mr McNalley on the seabed and found his mouthpiece was not in his mouth.

Coroner Dr McCauley said it appeared there had been a medical incident as data showed he dropped to the seabed in a very quick manner.

He said Mr McNalley was a healthy triathlete but he suggested it was an acute medical incident which rendered him unconscious and led to his death.

He said death was caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain and his death was as a result of an accident.