herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Diving instructor killed by freak wave near shore

A diver who ran his own dive school died after he was hit by a freak wave in Donegal over the weekend.

Rev Dr Stewart Jones, who was minister of Donemana Presbyterian Church in Strabane, Co Tyrone, got into difficulty shortly after he was struck by a freak wave during a dive at St John's Point in Co Donegal on Saturday at 4.30pm.

The experienced diver was diving along with friend Aaron Buick from Derry when the incident happened.

Rev Jones, who was in his 50s, had been a dive instructor for almost three years and ran DiveNorthernWaters. He had put up a Facebook message last week about the Donegal dive, inviting anyone who was interested to meet at Donemana at 10am on Saturday.

His young diving companion tried desperately to save him, taking him from the water and calling for help.

Other divers who were in the area at the time called the emergency services who scrambled the Malin Head Coastguard. A lifeboat and a helicopter were sent to the scene.

The Bundoran lifeboat transferred the casualty to the White Strand area, continuing to apply CPR throughout.

From there he was airlifted to Sligo General Hospital where he passed away. Mr Buick was treated for shock at the scene.

Rev Jones was married with three adult daughters. His wife, Patricia, and daughters Anna and Rachel were being comforted at home while they awaited the arrival of Rev Jones, third daughter Esther, who was travelling home from Canada.

He was also chaplain at Altnagelvin hospital for the past four-and-a-half years. The popular minister was prayed for at Sunday service at his church in Donemana yesterday.

Secretary of Donemana church Alan Holden said the community was "numbed and saddened by the news".

"He was so passionate about his diving. His passion for it came across in every aspect of his career," he added.

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A spokesperson for the Malin Head coastguard said the area where the incident occurred was popular with divers because the deep waster can be easily accessed from the shore.

Rev Jones is the fifth diver to die in Irish waters in the past month.

Jonathan Scott (62) and Steven Clarke (66) died when they got into difficulty while diving in Cork earlier this month, while a 42-year-old Polish national died off Malin Head and Limerick man John McNally (46) died in a Cork dive in June.

hnews@herald.ie

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