Coroner records verdict of accidental death in Lough Mask death

Water entered through tracheotomy tube

Mr John O’Dwyer, Coroner for south Mayo, recorded a verdict of accidental death this week in the tragic case of a Romanian man who died last weekend after a wave capsized a fishing boat he was in. Mircea Ungar, (53 ), a married man from Sibiu, Romania, was in Ireland for a fishing trip with five friends and was staying in Tourmakeady. The inquest heard that the deceased died due to drowning after water got into his lungs through a tracheotomy tube in his throat.

The inquest heard that the fishing party set out on Sunday last in two boats, with three men in each boat. John Bourke, Cappaghduff, Tourmakeady, was in one boat with Mr Ungar and Mairca Gigea; in the other boat was three other Rominan men. It had been originally planned for seven men to go out in three boats, but one of the parties had trouble with the engine in one boat and one of the Romanian men decided to stay at home so two boats went out.

The party went from the Tourmakeady side of the lake to the opposite side, which was more sheltered, at about 10am. Around midday they pulled up at an island near the Innishowen shore and had lunch before returning to fish for between 45 minutes and an hour. At about 1.30pm the weather had become very bad and Mr Bourke signalled for both parties to return home. As they headed back the boat he was in along with Mr Ungar and Mr Gigea was hit by a number of large waves. One swamped the boat two thirds with water, then another big wave between six and seven feet totally submerged the boat and knocked the three men into the lake.

Statements from all the men involved read into evidence in the inquest stated that Mr Ungar was wearing a lifejacket and nobody saw him go under the water at any stage. The three men in the second boat came over to help, but due to the choppy water it took a number of attempts to pull all three men from the water, starting with Mr Ungar then Mr Gigea and finally Mr Bourke.

In the statements of all those involved in the incident, they all said that the major concern was for Mr Ungar who was having great difficulty once he went into the water. One member of the party, Florin Luca, in his statement said that he saw Mr Ungar floating on his back in the water at one stage. When the three men finally got back into the second boat they made for the pier in Tourmakeady and when they got to the shore, CPR was carried out on him. The emergency services had been contacted and arrived shortly afterwards, along with Dr Noel Rice, a local GP who received a call about the incident and who arrived just before the ambulance crew around 2.30pm. In his statement he said that CPR was carried out and an endotracheal tube was inserted both orally and into an old tracheotomy incision. Despite the efforts there was no response and Dr Rice pronounced Mr Ungar dead at 2.58pm.

Dr Nemeth from Mayo General Hospital, who carried out the autopsy on Mr Ungar, said he found no evidence of external injuries on the body. He found that the cause of death was asphyxiation due to drowning and that the water had got into Mr Ungar’s lungs through a tracheotomy tube in his throat. The inquest had also heard that Mr Ungar had a history of throat cancer. Mr John O’Dwyer, after he recorded his verdict of accidental death, described the incident as a terrible and unfortunate accident and expressed his sympathy to Mr Ungar’s family and his friends who had been on the trip with him.


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