Saturday 22 October 2016

Tragic Dad fell off pier during gaming mission

Frank Maxwell, who fell into the water from Poolbeg Pier
Frank Maxwell, who fell into the water from Poolbeg Pier
Flowers left at the scene of the tragedy for Frank Maxwell

A Dublin dad-of-one died while taking part in an online gaming mission late at night at Poolbeg Pier.

Francis (Frank) Maxwell with an address at Portacarran, Oughterard, Co Galway, was playing Ingress, an augmented reality game that captures landmark buildings or 'portals' for points when he died.

Mr Maxwell, who was originally from Dublin and working in the capital during the week, was found in the water next to Poolbeg Pier around noon on September 25, 2015. It's believed he slipped and fell into the water.

Mr Maxwell's wife Alma Joyce said that he was a night-owl who loved driving, nature and the outdoors and was a "proud protective father" to their son, Lucas.


"Lucas brought him pure joy," Ms Joyce said in her deposition at Dublin Coroner's Court.

"He was a beautiful, intelligent, independent soul and he had a great laugh. Life is a living nightmare without him."

The couple had planned to visit The Zoo and The Botanic Gardens that weekend. Ms Joyce said her husband lived on through her son.

She said that her husband was one of the top Ingress players in Ireland who loved the game.

Her husband often played in her presence and wanted her to get involved. The court heard that Mr Maxwell had big plans for the global development of the game.

The IT professional had gone to Poolbeg Pier at 2.30am on a mission to "redo some work undone" by Ingress opponents. Team-mates say he checked in at the pier on Google Hangouts at 2.31am and remarked that it was cold.

The night was clear and moonlit and the water was calm, the court was told. Mr Maxwell was not heard from again.

Detective Garda John Paul Marrinan said Mr Maxwell and others were 'linking portals' as part of the Ingress game at sites between Tyrellstown, Rockabill in Skerries and Poolbeg Lighthouse on the night of September 24, 2015.

They completed their task by 11pm but Mr Maxwell went out to Poolbeg Pier later that night after an opposition team "undid some of their work".

Det Gda Marrinan said Mr Maxwell may have tripped on raised grates - used for water run-off - while walking along the pier and may have been looking at his phone.

Garda Valerie Farrell said the raised grates had since been removed from the pier. The phone was never recovered.

Many portals are historic sites or landmark buildings and players must be within a radius of 20ft of a portal to carry out any activity associated with it. Dublin Coroner's Court heard that the water tower on the M50 had previously been a portal but was removed because access was deemed too dangerous.

Poolbeg Lighthouse had been previously designated as a portal by Ingress players. Ms Joyce said that there were many portals around Oughterard, including her father's home.

Mr Maxwell sustained a skull fracture in the fall from the pier and the cause of death was drowning.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure because the pier itself had "inherent risk factors".

"The pier is open at both sides, the surface was uneven, it was night-time, there are no lights, it was in the course of this game Ingress," the coroner said.

Dr Farrell said he would write to San Francisco-based game creator Niantic Inc and Dublin Port Authority to inform them formally of the death.


The gaming community in Ireland paid tribute to the popular player following his death last year.

Kind words about Mr Maxwell were posted on a popular forum for Ingress players by people who had met him or had played with him online.

Many of them knew him also by his screen name, Reviresco.

A fundraiser was organised for his family, which raised almost €3,000, and in the aftermath of Mr Maxwell's death a group of Ingress players also met up at Poolbeg Pier where the accident occurred.

Flowers were laid along the pier and thrown into the sea to pay their respects.

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