herald

Saturday 24 August 2019

Funding drive to bring Irishman who died in honeymoon tragedy home

‘Spike’ McCormack and wife Karen were in Croatia
‘Spike’ McCormack and wife Karen were in Croatia

A fundraising drive to repatriate the remains of a 35-year-old Irishman who died suddenly on his honeymoon in Croatia had raised over €65,000 last night.

Leitrim man Tommy 'Spike' McCormack collapsed from a suspected heart attack while on holiday with his wife Karen in Split, Croatia last Saturday.

By yesterday evening, the fundraising target of €70,000 was within reach.

His sister-in-law Michelle Guthrie launched the fundraiser on Monday to help with repatriation costs. The funds will include a donation to the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, a charity which helps families bring back their loved ones who die abroad.

Invaluable

"Without the trust, we would truly be lost. Their ability to promptly respond in our time of need has been invaluable," she said.

His heartbroken wife Karen wrote on social media: "He was my soul mate. My best friend. My husband. Words cannot express how much love I have for him and I know he had for me too.

"I may be alone on an island in the middle of Croatia. But let me tell you I can feel all the love from each and every person who loved him."

The couple, who lived in Galway city, wed in May 2018 but went on holiday in mid-July this year and were supposed to head back to Ireland a few days before he collapsed with breathing problems, in what doctors suspect was a heart attack.

People who have donated on the GoFundMe page, have extended their sympathies to the family. "I donated because this is a heartbreaking situation that I wouldn't wish on anyone and I'm glad I can help in some small way," said one contributor.

When Karen went to get help, she met a Norwegian family, Katarina Nakken and husband Kristian Bliznac, Marita Nakken and partner Elton Rossebo, Andrea Nakken, their children and other friends.

Two of the tourists were police officers trained in CPR and tried to resuscitate Spike immediately.

Speaking to the Herald, Michelle explained how grateful Karen is for the support she has received, right from when Spike collapsed, to the success of the fundraiser.

"She said that the immediate response was incredible and they were incredible in controlling the situation," she said.

"They also met another family on a boat while in Croatia, Ger and Derek Dunne, who contacted Karen on the Saturday after it happened and moved her to their hotel, brought over all of Karen's and Spike's things.

"It's great to meet people like that and they held a vigil for Spike that evening."

She also extended thanks to friends Christy and Colette Kenny, the Irish Consulate, and a man named Patrick Martin from Ballinamore in Galway, who lives on one of the Croatian islands.

"Patrick came into the mainland over the weekend after he heard and assisted Karen and my mum," said Michelle.

"He was great in helping them with translation, moving their bags and anything else," she added.

"Myself and Karen were just saying how all of the support is so incredible, but it's bittersweet because he's gone," she said.

"Whenever he went out anywhere, he would always run into someone that he knew and he had a way about him."

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