Search widened for soldier missing at sea off Bundoran
Young father, a corporal, swept to sea while swimming with four other soldiers in Donegal
The beach resort of Bundoran, Co Donegal, on a summer day. File photograph: Getty Images
Recovery teams in Donegal Bay including the Sligo-based Coast Guard helicopter, Bundoran and Killybegs lifeboats and Coast Guard shore-searchers were seeking the missing soldier, named locally as Gavin Carey.
Mr Carey, attached to Custume Barracks, Athlone, and believed to be a corporal, is from the Mullingar area. His three-year-old daughter celebrates her birthday next week.
His partner and relatives joined the search along Roguey cliff and Tullan Strand in Bundoran.
The 28-year-old was on a training exercise at Finner Camp and went swimming nearby at Tullan with four other soldiers on Tuesday evening.
They chose a corner of the strand beside the cliffs, while waves up to five metres high swept into the strand and against the cliff-bottom rocks.
Mr Carey was believed to have been caught in a strong current and was swept out to sea. A friend swimming with him was pushed on to the rocks, but survived, suffering an injured leg. Two soldiers were given precautionary treatment in Sligo University Hospital.
Shane Smith of the Bundoran RNLI lifeboat said there was a “heavy swell” when the soldiers were swimming. He said that while Tullan is popular for surfers and swimmers, there can be dangerous currents in the area.
He added: “It is a great beach for surfing. It’s not a bad beach for swimming, it’s not the world’s worst. But there is quite dangerous current that runs alongside the cliff, which is why we presume the gentleman got into trouble.”
Eyewitness Mel Fallon, from Bundoran, who was out for his regular evening walk when the tragedy happened, told of seeing two people out of the five on the strand go into the water.
“The waves were large. One of the fellows was completely pushed out by the waves. The other fellow was pushed up against the rocks,” he said.
“The men should not have been out there. Obviously they had no local knowledge. They couldn’t have picked a worse spot,” he added.