Kilkee Co Clare, RIB apparently flipped on a SAR mission in heavy conditions although other reports suggest all three crew were ejected by a freak wave. Either way a heartbreaking blow to all and no doubt everyone will sympathize with her family, friends and coastguard colleagues.
A volunteer paying the ultimate price, may she RIP.
Community stunned by death of Caitriona Lucas, the first Coastguard member to die on duty | Irish Examiner
Monday, September 12, 2016 - 02:57 pm
Update at 11.30pm: A search and rescue volunteer has died trying to recover the body of a missing man in Co Clare.
Caitriona Lucas, of Doolin Coast Guard in Co Clare, was on a rigid inflatable with two colleagues when it capsized near cliffs in heavy Atlantic swell.
The mother-of-two had gone to sea with two colleagues in testing conditions off Kilkee in an attempt to recover the body of teacher David McMahon, from Lissycasey, Co Clare who went missing on Friday.
She is the first member of the Irish Coast Guard to die on duty.
It is understood a mayday was sent after the crew got into difficulty and the boat they were in flipped over at about 1pm.
Ms Lucas was airlifted unconscious from the water and repeated but unsuccessful attempts were made to resuscitate her.
Caitriona Lucas, understood to be aged in her 40s, lived in Liscannor with her husband Bernard, who was also involved in Doolin Coast Guard.
Originally from Ballyvaughan in Clare, she worked as a librarian with the County Council and she also trained her dogs with the Search And Rescue Dog Association.
Two other crew were rescued in the incident at the cliffs.
Jenny Carraway, aged in her 50s, from Kilkee and a member of the local Coast Guard unit, was said to be in a stable condition after being taken from the water.
James Lucy, the coxswain, also from Kilkee, was rescued more than four hours after the capsize.
He had scrambled on to rocks beside a cave at the bottom of cliffs but the spot was inaccessible from both air due to the gusting wind, heavy seas and overhanging rocks.
The rigid inflatable which capsized was also being thrown against the cliffs and blocked access by rescue teams from the sea.
A rescue crew abseiled about 100 feet down the cliff to reach the volunteer.
He was brought to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter winchman after teams moved him to a safe extraction point and was said to be in a stable condition but exhausted and badly shaken.
Manuel Di Lucia, a founding member of the former Kilkee Marine Rescue which later became the Coast Guard unit, expressed how the trauma of the tragedy would hit local coastal communities.
"This will have a devastating impact on the whole community here locally," he said.
"These people have been carrying out these operations for the last years, the coxswain was a former member of the marine rescue. It's very tragic for the whole area.
"There's a lot to be learnt from this incident."
Members of Lissycasey GAA club, who had been out on the shorelines for the last three days searching for their friend Mr McMahon, extended their condolences to the search and rescue teams.
The 33-year-old married man had trained with his teammates the night before he went missing.