herald

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Grieving fiancee had to be carried down Kilimanjaro

RESCUERS had to carry devastated Anna O'Loughlin down Kilimanjaro after her fiance Ian McKeever was struck by lightning.

A devastating picture has emerged of the trauma experienced by Ms O'Loughlin (34).

Members of the congregation that travelled to Tanzania have revealed that Anna needed physical assistance to descend the mountain.

Ian was still alive when a rescue team arrived, but is believed to have died while coming down the mountain.

Friends told the Herald that Anna was in "total shock" after witnessing the freak accident and was one of a number of climbers knocked to the ground when the bolt struck.

"It was highly traumatic. Anna received burns to her leg and was treated before being let out several hours later."

Meanwhile, heartbroken Ms O'Loughlin has spoken of losing her "soul mate" two days before the couple's first anniversary.



Charity

She said of her husband-to-be: "I love you dearly, I miss you terribly, I cannot conceive what to do next without you."

It emerged that the couple had set a date to marry next September.

"I met Ian exactly a year ago; as was typical of Ian, so much was lived in this time," she said. "From the moment we met, we knew we were soul mates," she said in a statement.

"We spent so much time together. Ian was never off-duty when it came to his charity work and climbing, so we did that together, climbing, trekking and meeting and making friends from Carrauntoohil to Lugnaquilla."

Ian (42) was leading a group of 23 climbers on a charity expedition when they encountered horrendous weather conditions.

The record-breaker and experienced mountaineer was struck by lightning at around 12.30pm on Wednesday.

"Lightning is not common; this is the first time we have experienced this calamity," according to a spokesman for Tanzania National Parks.

Fresh details have emerged of the moments before the tragedy took place.



Funeral

The group were close to the point where they were due to stay for the night when they were met by torrential rain.

A number of climbers were struck by the bolt that killed Ian, knocking many of them to the ground.

The Wicklow native's remains will be brought back to Ireland next week for what is expected to be an emotional funeral.

noconnor@herald.ie

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