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Flares save lives of kayaking father and son

Flares save lives of kayaking father and son

Anton McNulty


A FATHER and son whose kayaks capsized while fishing off Achill Island may not have survived if they had not brought marine flares with them.
The Scottish duo got into difficulty while fishing off Dooagh, Achill Island, at around 2pm on Saturday afternoon. They sent up red flares, which sparked a deluge of 999 calls from members of the public.
The Achill Coast Guard, Achill RNLI and the Shannon-based Coast Guard helicopter were all deployed, and the two kayakers were taken from the water and transferred to Mayo General Hospital.
The father and his teenage son, who are from Glasgow, were holidaying in the area. They had gone out fishing in kayaks close to the shore near the village of Dooagh. As they were fishing, the son got into difficulty and his kayak overturned. His father went to help, but his kayak also overturned and he also caught his leg on a rope.
Fortunately, they had brought marine flares with them, and the son had the presence of mind to set them off, drawing the attention of people on the shore.
A spokesperson for the Achill Coast Guard unit explained that the two kayakers were extremely fortunate, adding that if they had not sent up the flares the outcome could have been tragic.
“The father had taken in a lot of water after falling into the water and was in and out of consciousness. They were both very lucky. They had all the safety equipment, including the flares, which is unusual to see in kayaks, and the son was able to set them off. There was a good response from the people on the shore to the flares. I was later talking to a person in the head office who said they received so many 999 calls they could not handle them.
“There are lessons to be learned from this. It just shows how important it is to have the safety equipment like flares before going out on the water. They were fishing close to the rocks and people may not have seen them without the flares,” he said.
The father and son were taken from the water by a fisherman who saw the flares while fishing in his currach, and they were brought to Dooagh pier. The Coast Guard then brought them to the Keel Sandybanks to meet the helicopter which brought them to Castlebar. After receiving treatment, the two were released from hospital and have made a full recovery.

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