herald

Friday 22 September 2017

Ring me quick, dad - final text from student missing in trawler tragedy

A DUBLIN student feared drowned in a fishing tragedy texted his father "ring me quick" as the trawler sank. Kevin Kershaw made a desperate bid to contact his dad before the ‘Tit Bonhomme’ went down off the Cork coast.



Today his father Paddy paid a poignant visit to the scene of the tragedy.

Fishermen brought Mr Kershaw and two of Kevin’s brothers to the spot where the ill-fated trawler sank with his son Kevin (21) on board.

Navy divers were today battling against rough seas to reach the doomed trawler which now lies at the bottom of the ocean.

They are hoping that the bodies of Kevin and four other fishermen may be inside the hull.

A neighbour in Tallaght, Lorena Comerford, told the Herald today: “He was a lovely fella. I just can't believe it.”

As the search went on the only survivor of the tragedy also paid an emotional visit to the pier side in Union Hall as the search continues for five colleagues.

Mohammed adn Elgwad (28) left his bed at Cork University Hospital in a black jacket, grey tracksuit pants and slippers to thank rescue workers.

Wearing his arm in a sling the 28-year-old wept as he was hugged by fellow fishermen involved in the search operation. Mr adn Elgwad escaped after jumping into the sea and swimming to Adam Island at 6am yesterday morning.

The search was ongoing as it emerged Kevin, who is from Tallaght, made a final desperate bid to contact his father as the trawler went down.

A next door neighbour of the family in Dublin broke down in tears when she learned that Kevin was one of the crew.



tears

Lorena Comerford (34) fought back tears as she told that Herald he was “a very nice guy” who she has known since he was a child.

“He was a lovely fella. I just can't believe it,” Ms Comerford said. “Kevin was the eldest of six children. He had three brothers and two sisters and the youngest is an eight-year-old girl. This is dreadful news,” she said. “Kevin was going up and down to Cork more often since he was about 18. He's from a very nice family. The kids are absolutely lovely.”

It was the first time that the FAS trainee, who had been living with his aunt Anne in Clonakilty, went on a fishing expedition. Tragically he sent a final text message saying “ring me quick” to his dad after the ship ran aground.

The 21-metre steel-hulled trawler was torn apart when it ploughed directly into Adam Island, at the entrance to Glandore Bay as it ran to harbour ahead of a storm at 5.50am yesterday. The Kershaw family said it was Kevin's dream to be a fisherman and he had only celebrated his 21st birthday a few weeks ago.

A cousin said that Kevin was “always interested in the fishing business and he just decided to head out on Thursday night”.

“He texted his aunt on Thursday night and said he was going out. She texted back saying ‘be careful' and he texted back and said he would. But that was the last she heard,” she said.

“It is just desperate. We're all devastated. But we're going to stay here until he is found.”

Rescue officials are baffled as to what caused the tragedy and suspect that it is linked to either a catastrophic failure of the boat's navigation system or its engines. A massive search resumed at first light today and officials are hoping that if the weather holds, divers can recover the bodies.

The Coast Guard is to substantially increase the search area amid news that strong currents off Glandore Bay create a type of underwater whirlpool effect, which can carry bodies some distance along the west Cork shoreline.

Surviving crew member Mohammed ad Elgwad (40) said that it all happened very quickly and everyone had to jump off the boat.

Skipper and father-of-four Michael Hayes (52) is still missing alongside three Egyptian crew – Shaban Farrg (24), Said ali Eldine (26) and Weal adn Elgwad (30) and the young Dublin student. Mr Hayes’s wife, Kathleen, maintained a vigil at the pier as she awaited news on her husband.

Meanwhile, a number of Egyptian fishermen took to the seas to help with the search efforts, including Mohammad Ibriham – the father of one of the missing men.

Two life-rafts and four life vests were subsequently recovered but were found to have been badly damaged.



survivor

One of the missing Egyptians is a brother of the sole survivor and the other two men are cousins. Mohammed adn Elgwad managed to swim to Adam Island where he was later spotted by rescuers. He was airlifted to Cork University Hospital with acute hypothermia.

A friend of those missing, Mohammed said the small but tight-knit Egyptian community is reeling from the loss of three young men.

“All of those onboard had plenty of experience, some of them many, many years – it is devastating,” he told the Herald.

The massive search operation involved three RNLI lifeboats, one Naval Service vessel, two Irish Coastguard Sikorsky helicopters, 18 trawlers and smaller boasts as well as almost 100 volunteers.



hnews@herald.ie

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