Hillwalker found dead in Mayo suffered head injuries

Second hillwalker rescued from Nephins in Co Mayo yesterday

An Irish Coast Guard helicopter and Irish Coast Guard and mountain rescue teams from all over Ireland took part in the extensive combing of the mountain over three-and-a half days. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

An Irish Coast Guard helicopter and Irish Coast Guard and mountain rescue teams from all over Ireland took part in the extensive combing of the mountain over three-and-a half days. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Hillwalker Geoff Rowden (38), whose body was found below Mayo’s Mweelrea yesterday, is believed to have suffered extensive head injuries in a fall on the approach to the mountain.

The Dublin man had been missing since last Tuesday after he left to take a ridge route into Connacht’s highest mountain overlooking Killary fjord.

Up to 70 mountain rescue volunteers and hillwalkers from north and south of the border and from Britain were on the fourth day of the search yesterday morning when his body was located below an area known as the “ramp” about a mile from Doolough, where he had left his car.

Mayo Mountain Rescue team spokesman Colm Byrne said that the cause of his death wasn’t clear, but he may have fallen on his way back down when tired. Mr Rowden had left his tent in his car at Doolough as he had told his wife, Ann Marie, that he intended to camp overnight on Tuesday.

The alarm was raised by his family on Wednesday when there was no response from his phone.

The Irish Coast Guard Sligo-based helicopter, Irish Coast Guard teams from Westport, Co Mayo, and Cleggan, Co Galway and mountain rescue teams from Mayo, Galway, Donegal, Sligo-Leitrim, Dublin-Wicklow, Glen of Imaal, Co Wicklow, the Mournes, Co Down and the Calder Valley in Britain took part in the extensive combing of the mountain over three-and-a half days.

Trained search and rescue dogs from Donegal and Northern Ireland, hillwalkers and local farmers also participated, and accommodation was provided by Delphi Adventure Centre.

Mr Rowden, from Goatstown, Co Dublin, was a father of young children, an experienced walker and member of the Irish Mountaineering Club. His body was taken out by stretcher yesterday evening, and a post mortem was conducted at Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar.

One senior garda involved in the operation described the response from hillwalkers as “heartwarming and truly phenomenal”.

The Irish Coast Guard Sligo-based helicopter and Ballyglass Coast Guard unit rescued a 74-year-old hilllwalker from the Nephin Way, Co Mayo in very difficult weather conditions in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The man, who was an experienced walker and was on his own, was close to Bangor Erris on the Nephin route when he was located with the “Flir” thermal imaging night vision camera.

Conditions were too turbulent to make an immediate approach, but the man was carried out by stretcher by the Ballyglass Coast Guard, and then taken by

air to Sligo General Hospital, where he was given medical treatment.

The Sligo Sikorsky helicopter was flown by Martin Wood and Sean Redahan, with winch crew John McCartney and Tony Gannon. It has completed 210 jobs to date this year, its busiest to date.