Brother (50) and sister (62) lose their lives, juvenile treated for shock in Kerry sea tragedy

Autopsies will later be carried out on two people who died in a drowning tragedy off Kerry.

They died despite desperate efforts by rescue workers to rescue them off the North Kerry coast after the duo apparently ran into trouble in treacherous offshore currents.

An initial report indicated that one person got into trouble – and that the second person then bravely tried to help their friend in the strong current.

The dead are said to be a 50-year-old man and a 62-year-old woman who have been vacationing in the area in recent days.

Initial reports are of a brother and sister from the Roscommon/Galway area who were on a break in Ballybunion with family members.

The woman has lived in Sweden for the past few years and has an address in the Malmö area.

Her brother, originally from Athlone, lives in Lecarrow.

Gardai have contacted relatives of the siblings.

Horrifyingly, a teenage relative of the duo was apparently on the beach watching the entire tragedy unfold.

The youth was later treated for shock at the scene and then taken into the care of emergency services until he was reunited with relatives.

Both bodies were taken to Kerry University Hospital (UHK) last night for full post-mortem examinations later in the day.

A massive air-sea rescue operation by the Irish Coastguard, Ballybunion Community Inshore Rescue, RNLI, Gardaí and Irish Community Air Ambulance has been launched after the alarm went off in the popular holiday resort of North Kerry.

Beach residents appeared to spot a person in trouble some distance offshore – and immediately raised the alarm, concerned for his well-being.

After the alarm was raised, rescue workers rushed to the scene shortly after 6 p.m.

Irish Coastguard Operations Manager Micheál O’Toole said the Coastguard received word at 6pm Thursday evening that people were in trouble in the Ballybunion Bay area.

“Shortly thereafter we received word that an injured person had been pulled from the water by local lifeguards and at that point the operation was also assisted by Gardaí and the national rescue service.

“The Ballybunion Municipality Coastal Lifeboat has recovered another victim from the water and as we sadly highlighted the operation had a tragic outcome.

“Again, our thoughts must be with the families and friends of those affected by this incident,” Mr O’Toole told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

Mr O’Toole said conditions were “fair” and despite a sea breeze making the water choppy, he said conditions were not unfavorable.

It is not yet known how the siblings got into trouble and Micheál said Gardaí have launched an investigation into the tragic drowning but the Coast Guard has “some information that they were involved in swimming activities”.

“These incidents affect a wide range of affected individuals and communities and across different groups. You will get an overview of the large number of organizations involved in this operation and this tragic incident.

“I think it’s an example of the kind of collaboration and positive work that there is between services in Ireland, but unfortunately in this case there was a tragic, tragic outcome,” said Mr O’Toole.

The Irish Coastguard’s Ballybunion unit, Ballybunion Inshore Rescue and the RNLI lifeboat, based at Cappagh outside Kilrush, were tasked with the scene.

The operation was supported by Helicopter Rescue 115 based in Shannon and the Irish Community Air Ambulance based in North Cork.

Rescue workers were told two people had gotten into trouble while swimming.

Subsequent reports suggested that a third person may also have been involved.

Shortly after arriving at the scene, the Ballybunion Inshore Rescue Unit recovered an injured person from the water.

Despite desperate efforts to revive the unresponsive person, they were later pronounced dead at the scene.

A short time later, a second victim was retrieved from the sea.

Paramedics again tried desperately to revive the person, with the two helicopters on standby to take him to either University Hospital Limerick or University Hospital Kerry.

Tragically, the second person was also pronounced dead.

The rescue operation was halted some time later when it was confirmed that there was no third person in the water.

Gardaí tried to contact relatives of the couple at Ballybunion Resort and at their home address last night.

Rescue 115 had been on a mission from the Aran Islands to University Hospital Galway (UHG) when the crew was tasked with the rescue and recovery operation in North Kerry.

The helicopter flew direct to Shannon Airport where firefighters were on hand to facilitate what is known as a ‘hot refuelling’.

This is done under urgent rescue conditions, where a helicopter is refueled while its engines are still running to maximize its response time.

Rescue 115 swept the seas off Ballybunion for almost two hours, assisting sea and ground units in recovering the casualties.

The rescue operation was only halted shortly after it was confirmed that no third victim was involved.

Once confirmed, the Irish Community Air Ambulance was allowed to return to its base of operations in north Cork.

Watch officers from the Irish Coastguard’s Sea Rescue Sub-Centre on Valentia Island in Kerry helped coordinate the entire operation.

Weather conditions in North Kerry were said to have been good but a strong breeze had developed in the afternoon making the water quite choppy.

Ballybunion locals have expressed shock at the tragedy which has hampered the recovery of local tourism following the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown.

While hugely popular as both a beach resort and golfing destination, the waters off North Kerry and Clare are notorious for their unpredictable and strong currents. Brother (50) and sister (62) lose their lives, juvenile treated for shock in Kerry sea tragedy

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