herald

Thursday 29 June 2017

Fears grow for missing fisherman after trawler sinks in front of crowds

Jamie McAlister remained missing despite a flotilla of ships searching for him
Jamie McAlister remained missing despite a flotilla of ships searching for him

A huge search was set to continue today for a young crewman who went overboard as his trawler capsized near a harbour in front of horrified onlookers.

The skipper, believed to be the missing man's uncle, was rescued off Skerries, Co Dublin, yesterday afternoon and taken to Beaumont Hospital.

He was last night said to be "doing well" .

The missing man was named by locals as Jamie McAlister (28), from Mourne View, Skerries. The skipper was named locally as Keith McAlister, also of Mourne View.

In a tragic twist, the Herald understands that, after the boat capsized, both men were on the upturned hull for a period of time. However, despite the best efforts of lifeguards, only Keith was rescued at that time.

A massive search involving Coast Guard, Defence Forces and gardai, as well as local fishermen and pleasure boats, was called off at 9.30pm last night and was due to restart at first light.

It is understood the two men were aboard their small trawler fishing for razor clams when it sank 300ft from shore near the Perch rock at about 2pm.

People soaking up the sunshine in the town looked on in horror as the boat sank only yards from the RNLI lifeboat station next to the harbour.

"It's so close, you could swim out to it," said one woman.

Irish naval ships LE Orla and LE Niamh were leading the search and rescue efforts.

The Air Corps Casa 253 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft was also deployed, equipped with sophisticated technology including forward-looking infra-red and a high-powered camera system.

It was patrolling the coastline off Skerries as the Dublin Coast Guard rescue helicopter made regular circuits.

The garda sub-aqua unit had also been called out to search the water for the missing crewman. Volunteers from the RNLI from Skerries, Clogherhead and Howth were also involved.

RNLI lifeboat service manager Owen Medland told RTE News: "Skerries Lifeboat recovered one of the casualties. The vessel had sunk and, since then, there's been a huge effort and multi-agency search for the missing individual."

Tears

A large crowd of residents aided the operation from the shore, scanning the water for Jamie using binoculars.

Family members, many in tears, embraced each other.

The sea appeared to be calm yesterday. However, it is understood there were strong currents around at the time the vessel capsized.

"The area is well known for fishing. I'm sure, with the day that's in it, the lads decided to come down and head out," a local man said.

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