Irish Coast Guard Volunteer Perishes in SAR Effort

Lucas in an undated social media image (courtesy Waterford MSAR)

By MarEx 2016-09-12 19:55:09

On Monday, a volunteer member of the Irish Coast Guard lost her life in a missing person search and rescue off Kilkee, County Clare. 

Caitriona Lucas, 41 and a mother of two, went into the water along with two other volunteers when their rigid inflatable boat capsized near a steep, rocky shore.

The Valentia regional rescue coordination center launched a full-scale SAR effort to find and save the three volunteers. Lucas and one other female volunteer were pulled from the water, and the boat's coxswain, a male volunteer, was rescued from a nearby cave and flown to a hospital later in the day.

The Coast Guard said that the circumstances of his rescue from the cliffside cave were exceptionally difficult and involved coordinated airborne, waterborne and land-based teams. 

Lucas was pronounced dead on her arrival at hospital; news accounts suggest that she expired in the helicopter following her rescue. The other two volunteers are said to be in stable condition. 

Lucas' husband Bernard is also a member of the local Doolin Coast Guard unit, the agency said in a statement. 

"Caitriona was a member of that extraordinary group of men and women who dedicate their skills, time and passion so that others may be safe on our coastlines," said Ireland's minister for transport Shane Ross. "This is an appalling tragedy; the loss of a brave and valiant woman engaged in the most heroic and unselfish of duties." 

Ross commended the local volunteer units and other responders for their efforts to find and save one of their own under trying circumstances. 

Minister of Defense Enda Kenny said that the tragedy cast a “dark shadow" across Ireland. "To learn of the death of Caitríona, and of injury to her colleagues brings home the real dangers our rescue personnel face,” he said.

The cause of the accident is not yet known, Operations Manager with the Irish Coast Guard Declan Geoghegan told RTE Six One. The Ministry of Transport has said that it will launch an investigation.