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Beach blowhole should be fenced off says coroner

March 1st, 2022 11:45 AM

By Southern Star Team

Conor King’s friend Garry Barrett, who was described as a hero at the inquest, leaving the court in Bandon District Court this week. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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A CORONER has called on Cork County Council to fence off a dangerous blowhole in Garrettstown, after a young man fell 60ft to his death while camping with his friends there last year.

Coroner Frank O’Connell made the recommendation at the inquest into the death of MTU engineering student Conor King  (22) of Broadale, Douglas, who died on April 24th last year.

Mr King and several of his friends had travelled from Cork city to go camping in an area close to a blowhole.

That night they lit a fire and were talking and having a few cans.

However, at one stage Conor, who had been surfing earlier, stood up and took a few steps backwards and fell down the blowhole.

Mark Morton said they had been wrestling and that one minute his friend Conor was there, and when he looked up from his phone, he wasn’t. He said by using the torches on their phones they saw he was at the bottom of the cliff. He said he got as close to him as possible, but there was no response from him and they were screaming his name.

His friend, Garry Barrett, a trained lifeguard, said he immediately went down to the bottom of the cliff as he knew the area well. He managed to find Conor after wading around in the water and moved him over to a ledge and performed CPR on him for approximately 40 minutes until emergency services arrived.

Eamon Barry, a volunteer with the Old Head and Seven Heads Coast Guard, who attended the scene with Dr Jason van der Velde of West Cork Rapid Response, described Garry’s actions as ‘truly heroic’.

‘Even though he was extremely hypothermic and suffering from exposure, he was very reluctant to leave his friend and only did so when we reassured him we would look after him. His bravery on the night was truly amazing,’ said Mr Barry.

Assistant state pathologist Dr Margot Bolster said that Conor would have been unconscious immediately following the fall and would not have suffered. She said he died of polytrauma with head, chest and abdomen injuries consistent with a fall from a height.

Coroner Frank O’Connell recorded a verdict of accidental death and noted that the area where the blowhole is located should be fenced off.

‘It’s not a place where people should be camping and Conor King paid for his life with it,’ said Mr O’Connell.

Conor’s mum Maura said that her son loved his friends and they loved him and she called on them to remember the beautiful days they had with him.

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