herald

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Student on sunken trawler sent last-minute text to dad

TRAGEDY: Hunt goes on for captain and crew missing from sunken ship

NAVY divers were today hoping to find the body of a Dublin student in the wreck of a fishing trawler that sunk off west Cork.

The massive search operation in Glandore Bay was focused on reaching the ill-fated 'Tit Bonhomme' which now lies on the seabed.

Divers were unable to enter the rough waters last night but were attempting to search the trawler for five bodies today.

The recovery mission continued as it emerged that Dublin man Kevin Kershaw made a final desperate bid to contact his father as the fishing trawler went down.

Kevin (21) sent a final text message saying "ring me quick" to his dad after the ship ran aground. It was Kevin's first time on a fishing expedition after he expressed an interest in deep sea fishing.

FAS trainee Kevin (21), originally from Tallaght, had been living with his aunt Anne in Clonakilty His family have now gathered on the coastline along with relatives of four Egyptian crewmen.



PLOUGHED

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 on Sunday. 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.

"He was always interested in the fishing business and he just decided to head out on Thursday night," his cousin told the Herald. "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."

And in the early hours of Sunday morning -- thought to be just before the boat went down -- Kevin sent his dad a text asking him to "ring me quick".

"Kevin is full of adventure but he's the kind of young fella who would do anything for anyone," his aunt Anne said.

"All he wanted was to try it [the sea] out for the first time going out on a boat. We're just praying that they'll find him, that they'll find all of them now."

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 operation resumed at first light today and officials are hoping that if the weather allows divers to begin operations near the wreck, that they may recover bodies.

However, the Coast Guard is to substantially increase the search area amidnews 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 ad Elgwad (30)and the young Dublin student.



SURVIVOR

Two life rafts and four life vests were subsequently recovered but were found to have been badly damaged. One of the missing Egyptians is a brother of the sole survivor and the other two men are cousins.

Mohammed ad Elgwad managed to swim to Adam Island where he was later spotted by rescuers. He was airlifted to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

He is in a stable condition today, being treated for 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.

Fisherman Ebbie Sheehan said that usually there would be no problem negotiating this stretch of water.

"Something went terribly wrong -- we can only speculate but the weather was severe, there was adverse weather conditions," he said. "Unfortunately the sad thing about it is that they were so close to home."

Marine Minister Simon Coveney visited Union Hall pier and met the five families to express his sympathy.

The massive search operation was mounted from 5.53am -- when the first garbled 999 call was received.

The mission 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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