Two men who died while repairing Limerick bridge named

TJ Herlihy and Brian Whelan drowned after work platform plunged into River Shannon

 The scene at Thomond Bridge in Limerick, where two men drowned after the platform they were working on plunged into the River Shannon. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

The scene at Thomond Bridge in Limerick, where two men drowned after the platform they were working on plunged into the River Shannon. Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

 

Investigtaions are continuing in Limerick after two men died while working on a bridge in the city centre.

The men drowned after a platform they were working on plunged into the River Shannon at 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon.

A third man survived the incident which took place at Thomond Bridge while maintenance was being carried out on the waterside walls on behalf of Limerick City and County Council .

The men were working in a cage-like structure during the repair works on the bridge, one of the oldest in the city, when a cable attached to the cage gave way, plunging the three men into the river.

All three were wearing life jackets but were also in harnesses, which were attached to the cage when it fell into the water.

The two men who died in the incident - named yesterday as TJ Herlihy (36) from Castleisland, Co Kerry, and Brian Whelan (29), from O’Brien’s Bridge, Co Clare - became trapped when the cage became submerged in the fast flowing waters of the River Shannon.

The third worker - Paul Murphy (36) from Askeaton in Co Limerick - managed to free his harness and swim down river and raise the alarm.

Three units from Limerick City Fire and Rescue attended the scene when the alarm was raised. Three specially trained swift water rescue technicians were deployed to the bridge as part of the rescue and freed the men from their harnesses.

Divers from Limerick Marine Search and Rescue helped raise the cage-like structure from the water on Saturday evening and it has been was removed from the scene.

According to rescue workers, the two men were underwater for at least 10 minutes without breathing equipment. All three were taken to University Hospital Limerick, where Mr Herlihy and Mr Whelan were pronounced dead.

Gardaí and the the Health and Safety Authority are investigating the incident.

The Thomond Bridge job began last Monday and was due to take 10 weeks. Its expected that the works will be suspended for a number of weeks.

The victims were specialist workers employed by Irish Bridge in Askeaton, a Co Limerick-based company that specialises in bridge repair work. Mr Herlihy had worked for the company for a number of years.

A statement issued on behalf of Irish Bridge said: “Irish Bridge would like to offer its sincerest sympathies to the families of Brian and TJ following this terrible tragedy.

“It’s heartbreaking, our thoughts and prayers are with their families, relatives and friends at this very sad time.”

The company thanked all of the emergency services personnel “for their professionalism”, adding: “We will, of course, cooperate fully with all authorities examining the incident. The company will not be making any further comment at this point.”

In a statement issued on behalf of Limerick City and County Council, a spokesman said the local authority is liaising with An Garda Síochána and the Health and Safety Authority in relation to the incident.

“Limerick City and County Council wishes to extend its deepest sympathies to the families and colleagues of the deceased,” the spokesman said.