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Gardaí investigating jet skiers rescued in Clew Bay

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Trio rescued after all three of their jet skis broke down in dangerous waters

Anton McNulty

THREE men were questioned by An Garda Síochána after they had to be rescued on Saturday evening when they got into difficulty while jet skiing in Clew Bay.
The three men, all in their early 30s, had to be towed by a local resident to Rosmoney Pier near Westport around 10pm, after all three of their jet skis broke down in dangerous waters.
On arrival at Rosmoney Pier, they were questioned by gardaí in relation to breaching the current Covid-19 restrictions, and a spokesperson for Westport Gardaí confirmed that an investigation is ongoing.
Both the Westport Coast Guard unit and Achill Island Lifeboat were tasked to assist, and the Coast Guard helicopter R118 was also placed on standby.
Prior to the May Bank Holiday weekend, the Irish Coast Guard and the RNLI have issued a joint statement asking people not to take part in water-based activity as doing so puts their volunteers in danger.
A spokesperson from Westport Coast Guard reiterated the call, urging people stay away from the water, while also stating that the three rescued men were extremely lucky.
“Several 999 calls were made to both the Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána from members of the public who noticed the jet skis in the water. They were very lucky because they were being observed by the public, who noticed them getting into difficulty. If there were no Covid restrictions they may not have taken any notice of them. It was dark and they were heading into a shallow and rocky area … There may have been a different outcome.
“We would remind the public of the Government guidelines and urge people not to go in or on the water. If you go out on the water you are putting the rescue services at risk,” the spokesperson said.
It is understood that the three men, who are from the Castlebar area, had only recently purchased the jet skis. They had launched from Newport at around 6pm on Saturday evening.
Their presence on the water was immediately noted by locals, who contacted the Gardaí. Approximately half-an-hour later, a resident on one of the islands in Clew Bay contacted the Coast Guard to state that three jet skis were heading towards shallow and rocky ground.
The trio later got into difficulty near rocks, and one of the jet skis was left abandoned on one of the islands. One of the jet skis was then observed towing the other, and locals watching from the shore assumed that they were heading towards the safety of Rosmoney Pier.
At this stage it was starting to get dark, but it became apparent that they were not going towards the pier but going further north – towards more rocky and shallow water, known as The Turbet. As a result, a resident of another of the Clew Bay islands was tasked by the Coast Guard to instruct the men to return to Rosmoney.
When the resident got to the men, he noticed that the two jet skis were also disabled. He then used his RIB to tow them the short distance to Rosmoney Pier, arriving at approximately 10pm. They were assessed by the Coast Guard and while the jet skiers were cold they were healthy and thankful to be ashore.
The Westport Coast Guard unit returned to base at 11pm.
Their spokesperson said that Coast Guard and Lifeboat crews have to adhere to strict Covid-19 protocols when tasked to a rescue, which includes wearing masks and gloves and observing social distancing.
A Garda spokesperson added that there will be extra Garda checkpoints and patrols ahead of the bank holiday weekend to ensure that Covid-19 guidelines are strictly adhered to, and advised people not to travel to holiday homes this weekend.