A brother and sister died in a swimming tragedy in Kerry yesterday evening. The man is understood to have been holidaying in the area from the Lecarrow area of county Roscommon while his sister had an address in Malmo, Sweden.
They have not yet been named.
Their bodies were recovered from the water following a major air-sea rescue operation off Men’s Beach in Ballybunion as gardaí and members of the emergency services tried to comfort the grief-stricken teenage son of the man, and trace relatives to care for him.
The man who drowned was in his 50s and his sister was in her early 60s.
Eyewitnesses described heartbreaking scenes on the beach as the boy watched the tragedy unfold.
Lifeguards on duty on the beach spotted a man in difficulty in the water at around 6pm.
They raised the alarm and rushed into the water to help him as officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue coordination centre on Valentia Island triggered and then coordinated a major search and rescue operation.
They tasked several assets including the Ballybunion unit of the Irish Coast Guard, the Ballybunion community inshore rescue boat, and the RNLI lifeboat near Kilrush, in Co Clare to the scene.
Units of the National Ambulance Service, the Coast Guard’s Shannon-based Rescue 115 helicopter and the north Cork-based air ambulance, Helimed 92, were also tasked as gardaí rushed to the scene.
It is understood that as lifeguards took the man in critical condition from the water, his son told them that his aunt was also in difficulty in the water.
The lifeguards brought the man ashore where medical attention was rendered, including CPR, as the search continued for the woman.
However, the man was pronounced dead on the beach by paramedics.
The woman was recovered in critical condition from the water a short time later by the crew of the inshore rescue boat, very close to where she had last been seen, and she was also taken ashore for medical attention.
However, she did not respond to resuscitation efforts and was also pronounced dead at the scene.
The bodies of both deceased were then removed from the scene by ambulance to the mortuary in University Hospital Kerry in Tralee where post mortem examinations are expected to take place.
Gardaí took witness statements from people who were in the area at the time and it is understood that from initial inquiries, they are treating the matter as a tragic accident and a file will be prepared for the coroner.