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Stricken canoeist only saved by 'stroke of luck'

Story by Tom Shiel

Friday, 11th August, 2017 4:07pm

Stricken canoeist only saved by 'stroke of luck'

A CANOEIST rescued from 14,000-acre Lough Conn after a four-hour ordeal last night (Thursday) owes his life to a reflective strip on his life jacket.

Michael Tiernan Jnr, who came on the stricken kayaker around 10 p.m. along with fellow boatman, Paul Walsh, who spotted him initially, said they had only found him by 'a stroke of luck'.

Michael explained: “In the darkness it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We saw a tiny reflection of light from his lifejacket when Paul shone his high-powered flashlight. He was delirious when we found him, drifting in and out of consciousness.”

The canoeist involved, who is described as a London-based professional in his 40s, was kayaking on the lake in a single-sit vessel when it overturned. 

Two youngsters, aged 10 and 12, one of them a son of the canoeist, were in a separate kayak when the capsize occurred. 

Obeying shouted instructions from the water, they paddled ashore for several miles before raising the alarm. 

After the rescue, the canoeist was brought to Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar where he was treated for hypothermia. He is said today to have made a good recovery.

Search teams involved in the rescue included gardaí, local boatsmen, members of the Killala Coast Guard unit and the Sligo-based Coast Guard helicopter.

Garda Supt. Joe Doherty today (Friday) praised all who were involved in the rescue operation, stating what could easily have been a tragic situation was narrowly averted.

Supt. Doherty also praised the two boys for their coolness in getting to the shore and raising the alarm as instructed.

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