Baltimore RNLI lifeboats launched to nine people missing off Schull

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Published on: December 5, 2008

Date: 5/12/2008

In the early hours of Friday 5th December 2008 the volunteer crewmembers of Baltimore RNLI all weather and inshore lifeboats were called out to reports of nine people missing off Schull in County Cork. The missing group believed to be from Switzerland had set off in a 16-foot punt to travel from the mainland over to Coney Island when their engine failed and worsening weather conditions started filling the small boat with water. A tenth person had managed to swim ashore and raise the alarm.

The lifeboat crew launched shortly after 2am and along with members of Schull Community Inshore rescue they proceeded to last known position of the punt. Conditions were very bad with a strong wind and heavy showers, which made visibility poor. Soon after arriving at the scene it was discovered that eight of nine people missing had made it ashore and were sheltering in a house. Around this time a casualty was spotted on the beach and recovered onto the all weather lifeboat.

The lifeboat crew passed out warm clothing to the group who were showing early indicators of hyperthermia. Conditions were deteriorating and a decision was made to bring all of the casualties onboard the Baltimore all weather lifeboat, Hilda Jarrett, and return to Schull. There they were met by waiting ambulances and a doctor, which brought nine people to hospital. One fatality was confirmed.

Commenting on the dramatic events, Balitmore Coxswain Kieran Cottor said, ” This was a terrible night to be out. Conditions were very bad and the strong winds combined with the heavy showers and spray meant that the small punt filled quickly with water and overturned. The nine people were lucky to make it to shore. One of our lifeboat crew is fluent in French and thankfully was able to communicate with the survivor who swam to shore and get quickly apprised of the situation. Sadly it was confirmed by a doctor that one of the group didn’t survive. It is in situations like these that time is so important.”

There was a huge number of volunteers active that night both onshore and afloat to support the search and rescue operation.Tom Bushe Lifeboat Operations manager, authorised the launch of both lifeboats. Volunteers were alerted by pager. The shore crew of Rianne Smith, Kate Callanan, Ronan Callanan and Paul O’Driscoll launched and recovered the allweather lifeboat at the Bull Point lifeboat house. Crew on the ALB Hilda Jarrett were Coxswain Kieran Cotter, Mechanic Cathal Cottrell, Sean McCarthy, Torsten Marten, Simon Duggan, Gerry Smith, Ronnie Carty and Brendan Cottrell. A separate shore crew of John Kearney, Jason Parvrey and Aidan Bushe, was required to launch and recover the ILB using a tractor to manouvre the launching trailer down the slip. Crew on the ILB Bessie were Helm Kieran Collins, Youen Jacob and Micheal Cottrell

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