Man (27) dies in hospital after boat capsizes in Limerick
Four men clung to boat in bitter cold water before being rescued from River Shannon
It is understood that the men became stuck between the debris and branches from a fallen tree across the river. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
A 27-year-old man who was in a critical condition after a boat capsized on the River Shannon in Co Limerick has died in hospital.
The man, who is from the locality, was submerged in water for more than two hours after a 5m launch capsized, plunging him and three others into freezing cold water shortly before 4.30am on Thursday.
Rescue workers found the men clinging to the boat, which became trapped in debris and branches from a fallen tree making the rescue operation extremely difficult.
Limerick Fire and Rescue Service were alerted to the incident at Worrall’s End, Castleconnell.
It understood the boat had earlier been removed from outside Castleconnell Boat Club. It was one of a number of boats that had only recently been brought back to the club from the village hall where they had been kept in storage because of damage caused to the boat house during recent flooding.
The boats were outside the boat house but were behind a secure gate.
It is understood the men - who had attended a house party in Castleconnell earlier that night - removed the steel launch from outside the boat house along with two oars.
As soon as they launched the boat from the slipway, it was swept over fast flowing rapids on the river where water levels are still at unprecedented high levels.
Such was the force and speed over the rapids, the metal boat was bent around a tree, trapping the four inside.
One of the men eventually managed to break free and raise the alarm.
Upon arrival, swiftwater rescue technicians from Limerick Fire Service discovered the men in the water clinging to the boat.
It is believed the 27-year-old who died was in the water for a considerable length of time before he was eventually rescued at about 7am.
He was taken to University Hospital Limerick.
The other three men were treated for hypothermia and its understood one of them may have broken a limb.
The multi agency rescue operation involving the fire service, gardaí, paramedics, Limerick Marine Search and Rescue and the Irish Coast Guard took over three hours due to the positioning of the men in the water.
Gardaí from Henry Street are investigating.