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Boating Under Influence Led To Shannon Tragedy Says MCIB Report

29th November 2016
The boat pinned to trees in the Shannon hours after the tragic incident on 4 February 2016 The boat pinned to trees in the Shannon hours after the tragic incident on 4 February 2016 Photo: MCIB

#MCIB - The dangers of boating while under the influence have been highlighted in the official report into an incident on the Shannon near Limerick city earlier this year.

One man died and three others were hospitalised after their boat capsized north-east of Limerick city in the early hours of Thursday 4 February, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

The official report into the incident by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has found that the four men, none of whom had any boating experience, were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs when they took the boat from Castleconnell Boat Club shortly before 4am.

The small aluminium boat had its drain plug removed, as is standard when storing such boats ashore, and quickly began taking on water as the four men paddled to an area known as the Gap of the Dam, where the river narrows, and into a torrent fed by heavy rainfall in the previous fortnight.

Losing control of the boat as they guided it to trees on a spit of land in the river, it grounded on submerged rocks and capsized, throwing all four men into the water. None were wearing lifejackets.

One man caught his leg under the capsized boat, another was swept away while attempting to lift the boat off his friend, and a third became entangled in undergrowth after losing his footing, while the fourth managed to contact emergency services with his mobile phone after several attempts.

Gardaí and teams from the Limerick Fire Service and Killaloe Coast Guard arrived between 4:35am and 4:45am but faced great difficulty mounting a rescue attempt due to the fast-flowing water and low light conditions, though all four were recovered by 7am.

Two firemen were commended by the MCIB for their courage in staying in the water for over two hours to assist the man trapped in undergrowth, though he was unresponsive when finally recovered from the water and later pronounced dead due to drowning at Limerick University Hospital.

Impaired judgement due to drugs and/or drink taken over a number of hours was cited as the main factor in the tragedy by the MCIB, explaining the men’s recklessness in taking out a boat in darkness with no experience and lacking safety gear.

The board recommends the issue of a Marine Notice reminding the public of the dangers of operating any water craft under the influence.

The full report from the MCIB is available to download below.

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