Tragic angler named, as search continues for missing Portadown man

An Irish coastguard helicopter during the search of Lough Ree in Co Westmeath.
An Irish coastguard helicopter during the search of Lough Ree in Co Westmeath.

The Armagh angler who died on a fishing trip in the Irish Republic has been named as 27-year-old David Warnock.

The missing man is understood to be a married father-of-three from Portadown, whose wife is expecting their fourth child.

Another man, aged 60 from Lurgan, is in a critical condition in hospital after their boat capsized on Lough Ree in Co Westmeath on Thursday afternoon.

Gardai confirmed that Mr Warnock died after being transferred to a Galway hospital on Thursday night.

The search for the third man resumed shortly after 8am on Friday morning, with Lough Ree RNLI, sub aqua units from Athlone and Lanesborough and local anglers taking part.

Conditions were reported to be poor on Thursday afternoon when the party of six set out in two boats from the Hodson Bay area.

They were using two 15ft (4.6m) Dell Quay Dory flat-bottomed vessels which were heavily laden with fishing and camping gear, much of which was found strewn across the lough during the search.

The men, all members of the Portadown Pikers angling club, and who knew the area well, were planning to travel about five miles (8km) to the Carna area or an island on the lough for a camping and pike-fishing trip.

It is thought the two boats, one of which turned back to shore a short distance into the journey, were hit by localised squalls.

Liam Sheringham of the RNLI crew said a large amount of gear was found in the water after the alarm was raised.

“The boats are Dell Quay Dory double-skinned boats, and they would be considered relatively unsinkable but up to last night it had not been found,” he said. “They had a big load on the boat.”

Mr Sheringham said the men had spoken to locals about the weather before they set out.

Lough Ree RNLI launched at 4pm on Thursday after the alarm was raised.

Two of the men– Mr Warnock and another in his 50s – were pulled from the water and taken to shore within an hour-and-a-half.

A Garda spokesman said the dead man had been transferred to University Hospital Galway in a critical condition but died in intensive care.

Damien Delaney, operations manager of Lough Ree RNLI, said last night: “This was a major search and rescue operation on Lough Ree involving the RNLI, Coast Guard, Athlone Sub Aqua, Lanesborough Sub Aqua and other local boats.

“Our thoughts are with the men’s families.

“Certainly within the range of the debris, the most likely places he could have been if still afloat, we’ve walked most of the shoreline where he may have got ashore.”

As darkness fell last night, a search of the lough and its shoreline was exhausted without finding the missing man whose family had travelled to Lough Ree.

Mr Delaney said forecast gales could hamper the operation, which is spanning an area of water and shore around three miles by one mile.

“The search may well have to become, rather than a search and rescue, a recovery operation,” he added.

The local RNLI search teams said the alarm was raised by a local person who was concerned about the men heading out in deteriorating conditions. The crew launched before receiving a report of an accident or a boat capsizing.

“The boat was on the water before anything happened. It was a precautionary measure because a member of the public expressed concern about the men leaving Hodson Bay,” a spokesman said.