Search to resume for missing man in West Cork

Rescuers recover body of companion from a rocky inlet near family’s holiday home

A search operation is due to resume at first light today for one of two men missing from Sheep's Head peninsula in west Cork after searchers yesterday recovered a body in choppy seas.

Dutch man Roland Deckers (31) and his German friend Othman Rahmouni (33), who both lived near Amsterdam, were reported missing from Mr Deckers's family holiday home at The Cove, 5km from Kilcrohane, on the Sheep's Head peninsula late on Sunday night.

The body had not been formally identified last night.

Mr Deckers had been in touch with his mother, Karen, in the Netherlands at about 1.15pm on Saturday to say they were going for a walk along the rocky peninsula. The alarm was raised when there was no further contact over the weekend.

Gardaí in Bantry notified the Coast Guard at Valentia at about 2am yesterday and a major search operation was launched, concentrating on the northern side of the Sheep’s Head peninsula where the two men were staying.

Weather conditions on Saturday were very poor, with force 11 northwesterly gales throwing up 70-100ft waves on the northern shore of the Sheep’s Head peninsula, prompting fears both men may have been swept or blown into the sea.

Helicopter sweep
The Coast Guard helicopter from Shannon carried out a sweep of the northern shoreline of the Sheep's Head peninsula between 3.50am-4.45am yesterday before refuelling in Castletownbere and returning to carry out another search.

The Coast Guard also mobilised its coast and cliff rescue units from Goleen and Castletownbere, while Castletownbere RNLI lifeboat Annette Hutton also joined in the search offshore in Bantry Bay. It was later joined by the LE Eithne.

Gardaí from Bantry under Garda Supt Mick Fitzpatrick and West Cork Civil Defence under Niall Twomey joined the search as did Coast Guard units from Toe Head and Glandore.

At about 12.30pm yesterday, searchers spotted the body of a man floating in a rocky inlet at Gortavallig, 300 metres from the Deckers’ holiday home at Eskraha, but heavy swells made it unsafe for rescuers to try and get down from the 30ft cliffs.

A request was made for assistance from the Coast Guard helicopter. A winchman recovered the body, which who was brought to the cliff top.

The body was removed to Cork University Hospital where a postmortem is due to take place today. As the search for his companion resumes, members of both families are expected to travel to west Cork.

It is understood Mr Deckers’ grandfather bought the old Coast Guard station at The Cove and renovated it more than 25 years ago. Mr Deckers used to come with his parents, Herman and Karen, and sister Laurinda for several weeks every summer from when he was five years old.

Local farmer Jerry Daly, who knows the family well, described Mr Deckers as "a lovely fellow". Michael O'Regan of Goleen Coast and Cliff Rescue said conditions yesterday were reasonable, although there was a strong swell, but the weather is due to deteriorate tomorrow.