A fishing trip turned into tragedy earlier this week when a freak wave knocked two men into the cold waters of Lough Corrib and, despite a major search and rescue effort by local fishermen and a coastguard helicopter, one man lost his fight for life in hospital hours later.
The incident has left family and friends in a devastated state as they prepare for the funeral of 53-year-old angling enthusiast Michael Ruane, of Devon Park in Salthill, which takes place tomorrow at the Church of Christ the King, Salthill, with his remains being laid to rest in Bohermore cemetery.
The events that led to the untimely death of Mr Ruane happened extremely quickly, with what has been described as a “freak” wave hitting the small boat at around 4.20pm and the Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter locating and winching Mr Ruane aboard and rushing him to University Hospital Galway for treatment.
According to a spokesperson at Galway Garda Station Mr Ruane and a friend, a 47-year-old man from Oranmore, had been fishing in Lough Corrib, about two kilometres north of Annaghdown, when the wave hit and threw both men into the water.
“Both attempted to swim to a nearby island, but only one man made it and when he looked around he realised his friend was gone. The man alerted local fishermen in the area who helped search for the missing person. The Coast Guard, which had been alerted at 4.30pm and tasked a Valentia Coast Guard helicopter based in Shannon, arrived and joined the search. The body of Mr Ruane was located and taken to UHG and he was pronounced dead at 7pm. The second man was also taken to hospital and treated for shock and hypothermia,” said the spokesperson, who added that Met Eireann had issued a small weather warning on Monday predicting strong winds resulting in choppy conditions on waterways in the west.
It is further understood that Mr Ruane had been recovered within 40 to 50 minutes of entering the cold water, and that both men were experienced leisure fishermen and had been wearing life jackets at the time. A post mortem was carried out on Tuesday and gardai have confirmed that the matter is being treated as a tragic accident.