A ROMANIAN man who died after his fishing boat was capsized after being struck by a ‘freak’ wave had only arrived in the country the day before.
The tragic accident occurred on Lough Mask shortly after 1.30pm on Sunday afternoon when the deceased man, Mircea Ungar, along with another Romanian man and boatman, John Bourke were returning to Tourmakeady.
Mr Ungar, who is in his 50s, and a married father of two teenage girls, had arrived in Ireland along with five other businessmen on Saturday afternoon for a business holiday. Five of the party went fishing on Lough Mask on Sunday morning and were only five minutes from returning to the pier when the tragedy struck.
John Bourke from Tourmakeady who operates a boat hire business on the shores of Lough Mask explained that they were all thrown from the boat when it capsized after a wave filled his 19 foot boat with water.
“We were thrown out of the boat, all three of us, but our lifejackets inflated and we held onto the boat and we knew that there were other boats close by,” a shocked John told The Mayo News.
“We were in the water for about 45 minutes before we were picked up and he was beside me in the water and talking to me. I thought once we held onto the boat we would be picked up and okay. However, he was pronounced dead at the pier and that was a real shock.”
The other Romanian man who was in the boat spent the night in hospital where he was treated for hypothermia but John was given the all clear at the shore by a local doctor.
The party had gone out on the water at about 10.45am and travelled to the Ballinrobe side of the lake which was sheltered. John explained that the conditions were calm in the morning but they decided to return at about 1.30pm when the water started to get choppy.
“We were half way across and about five or ten minutes from the pier when the wave struck us. I never experienced a wave fill a boat in one complete sweep before. The boat filled up with water and we turned over. Usually when a wave comes into the boat you will have time to empty it but with this wave we were not able to bail out,” he explained.
John said the water was cold and when they were waiting to be rescued the waves hit the boat and turned it over, making it difficult to hold onto.
John expressed his sympathy and condolences to the man’s wife and family and also to his colleagues who were in shock at the death of Mr Ungar
A post mortem took place in Mayo General Hospital yesterday and an inquest is due to be heard on today (Tuesday) to allow the body to be repatriated.