herald

Saturday 15 December 2018

Injured Zoe facing months in hospital as tragic Brian's body is set to return home

Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp with his wife Zoe Holohan
Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp with his wife Zoe Holohan

Newlywed Zoe Holohan, who was injured in the devastating Greek wildfires, will remain in hospital for up to two months.

She was rescued from the inferno in which her new husband, Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp, died last week, but suffered extensive burns and will require months of recuperation.

Ms Holohan, who works for the Sunday World as an advertising executive, underwent her first medical procedure on Friday in Athens in the hospital where she has been undergoing treatment.

Devastating

The couple had been enjoying their honeymoon in Mati, a resort east of Athens, when wildfires swept through the region last Monday, causing a devastating loss of life.

Arrangements are now being made for the repatriation of Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp's body from Greece, and the Herald understands that it is hoped that this may happen later this week, around Thursday.

Meanwhile, more details are emerging of how the tragedy unfolded. The Sunday World reported yesterday that the couple had fled their rented holiday home as the fire moved in, but couldn't start their car, so took off on foot.

A driver motioned for them to get into the boot of a car, which was the only space available. The car was stuffed with six children and three adults.

A firefighter who came upon the car later rescued Ms Holohan from the boot.

She was given first-aid treatment at the fire station by a nurse, and rushed to hospital in Athens.

The firefighter said that everyone in the car would have died in minutes had they not been rescued there and then, amid the intense heat.

Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp had been lost somewhere along the journey. His body was formally identified last Wednesday.

The fire has claimed the lives of at least 88 people and injured dozens more. Hundreds of mourners yesterday gathered at a memorial service in a church in Mati where they lit candles in memory of those who died.

The senior local Greek Orthodox Church official, Bishop Kyrillos, presided over the service at Dormition of the Virgin Mary Church in Mati.

He said the community was mourning the loss of family, neighbours and friends.

It comes as rescue crews are still looking for survivors of the blaze.

Volunteer divers have been searching the sea off Mati looking for the bodies of more possible victims.

The wildfire left the area dotted with burnt-out trees, ashen earth and destroyed buildings as a vast clean-up operation continues.

Meanwhile, the 'Brian O'Callaghan-Westropp Memorial' fundraising page set up by college friends of the deceased man on the GoFundMe website had by yesterday afternoon exceeded its original €5,000 goal.

Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp had been studying for a Masters of Business Administration at the National College of Ireland at night, and he was remembered as someone whose "enthusiasm, passion and zest for life were infectious".

The proceeds of the fundraiser will go to Ms Holohan "to try to help her through this most difficult time", the organiser said.

Mr O'Callaghan-Westropp lived and worked in Dublin, but was a native of Co Clare, where books of condolences were signed over the weekend.

Local people in St Senan's Parish, Shannon, in the diocese of Killaloe, paid their respects at the Jubilee Chapel of Mary Immaculate Church and SS John and Paul Church.

Meanwhile, Greek authorities continue to investigate the cause of the blaze. Officials suspect arson because the wildfire appears to have started at three different locations simultaneously.

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