herald

Thursday 15 November 2018

Heartbreak for Brian's family

Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp with his wife Zoe Holohan
Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp with his wife Zoe Holohan
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Burning houses in Mati. Photo: AP
Brian and Zoe on their wedding day just last week

A Dublin man caught up in wildfires while on his honeymoon in Greece has been confirmed as one of the victims.

After an extensive search, Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp's family received the devastating news yesterday afternoon that he was among the 81 people killed in the fire.

He had married his partner Zoe Holohan last week before they flew to Greece for their honeymoon.

However, when the fire tore rapidly through the coastal town of Mati, the couple became separated in the chaos.

Ms Holohan, who works in the advertising department of the Sunday World, was hospitalised in Athens having suffered burns.

It is understood that she will remain there for a period while she awaits surgery.

A source close to Ms Holohan told the Herald that both families travelled over to Greece with the Irish consulate in the hope of finding Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp alive.

Tragic

However, the Irish Embassy in Greece yesterday confirmed the tragic news.

"I'm very sorry to confirm that we do have the death of an Irish citizen and it has been confirmed as Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp," said the Irish Ambassador to Greece, Orla O'Hanrahan.

"Our sympathies and thoughts go out to his family at this time."

The Holohan and O'Callaghan-Westropp families released a statement confirming the sad news.

"We are deeply saddened to confirm the death of our family member Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp," the statement said.

"The families would respectfully appreciate privacy at this time as we grieve and as Zoe makes her recovery.

"Funeral arrangement will be announced at a later stage."

Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp, from Kilmainham, was the general manager of catering company Ready Chef. He was also an active member of Blood Bikes East for more than a year.

As the secretary of the voluntary organisation, the motorbike enthusiast helped provide free emergency transport services to Dublin hospitals.

Blood Bikes East chairman Brendan Conroy told the Herald that Mr O'Callaghan-Westroppwho, who was in his 40s, was more than a volunteer.

"Brian got along so well with everyone and I would personally consider him to be a very good friend," Mr Conroy said.

"I was at his wedding only last week and was in total shock when I found out that he was among those missing."

Mr Conroy described Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp as a "trojan worker" who always put others before himself.

"Brian was always at the forefront developing the organisation and providing vital services to hospitals," he said.

"He applied his business knowledge and management skills to really help us thrive."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had earlier said he was "devastated" to learn that an Irish honeymooner was among those caught up in the tragedy.

He pledged the support of the Irish Government and said the Irish team on the ground would provide every assistance to those affected.

"I've been in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs today just to make sure that the ambassador and our people on the ground are providing whatever assistance we can," Mr Varadkar said.

"I can assure you that our embassy team in Ireland are in touch with the Greek authorities and will do anything that we can to help support our citizens over there."

The small community of Mati, a popular tourist resort with Greek holidaymakers roughly 30km east of Athens, was among the areas worst hit by the devastating blazes.

Destroyed

At least 81 people have been killed, while dozens more have been injured. However, this figure is expected to rise.

Reports in Greece suggested that 1,500 homes had been damaged or destroyed.

Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp became separated from his wife on Monday afternoon.

It is understood that the couple were travelling in a vehicle when they were forced to flee because of an approaching wildfire.

Ms Holohan suffered burn injuries but managed to escape to a nearby beach.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was not providing consular assistance to any other Irish people.

President Michael D Higgins said he had written to the Greek president and expressed his condolences as well as solidarity with Greece on behalf of the Irish people.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the country was "going through an unspeakable tragedy" and declared a three-day national mourning period.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News