A YOUNG Baltimore girl, whose father and brother, and brother’s girlfriend, were drowned near the Beacon last year, has told an inquest how two tourists helped her raise the alarm that day.
Charlotte Ryan Davis (13) was giving evidence at the inquest in Clonakilty into the deaths of Barry Ryan Snr (51) and Barry Davis Ryan (20) from Lackahane, Baltimore, and Mr Davis Ryan’s girlfriend, Niamh O’Connor (20) from Glanmire, on June 30th.
Charlotte, Barry Ryan Snr’s daughter, said that she had been with her father, brother, and Niamh O’Connor, fishing on the rocks near the Beacon in Baltimore around 6.15pm that day.
They were sitting down on rocks when her brother, Barry, went out on the furthest rock to go fishing and he asked if anyone else wanted a go. Ms O’Connor joined him and both were splashed by a couple of waves.
‘Then a big wave came in and hit us. Me and Dad got soaked and it pushed us up against the rock. Barry and Niamh were pushed out to sea by the pressure of the wave – Barry was further out than Niamh, there was a bit of distance between them,’ recalled Charlotte.
‘Niamh was screaming so Dad took off his coat and he told me to go up the rocks so I saw him swim out to Niamh ... I stopped to look again, I couldn’t see Barry. Niamh and Dad were close by the rocks and then I saw their heads go under and I started to panic,’ she added.
Charlotte said she then spotted Welsh tourists, Christine Bird-Jones, Maggie McTurk and Carys Mol near the Beacon, and they raised the alarm, dialling 911 before returning with Charlotte down to the rocks to see if they could help.
Kieran Cotter, coxwain of Baltimore RNLI, told how he had received an alert at 6.36pm from the Irish Coastguard at Valentia and Baltimore RNLI responded with both the all-weather lifeboat and the inshore lifeboat, reaching the area by the Beacon at 6.46pm where they spotted both a man and a woman in the water.
The all-weather lifeboat recovered the male casualty and the inshore boat recovered the female. Neither was responsive and the RNLI crew performed CPR on them as they brought them back to Baltimore where doctors worked on them for up to an hour, the inquest heard.
Both Barry Ryan Snr and Ms O’Connor were pronounced dead on the pier, as the lifeboats returned to search for Barry Jnr.
They could find no trace of him and it wasn’t until July 10th that diver Eric Hennessy found the young man’s body caught in a rock in 24m of water.
Assistant state pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster told the inquest that Mr Ryan Snr died from acute cardio-respiratory failure due to drowning, while both Mr Davis Ryan Jnr and Ms O’Connor also died from acute cardio respiratory failure due to drowning, after suffering severe head and brain injuries.
It appeared that both Mr Davis Ryan Jnr and Ms O’Connor had been buffeted against the rocks after being swept into the sea, and Dr Bolster assured both families that they would have been rendered unconscious very quickly and would not have suffered.
Coroner Frank O’Connell returned verdicts of ‘accidental death’ in respect of all three deceased and paid tribute to Mr Ryan Snr for his bravery and courage in trying to rescue his son and Ms O’Connor. He sympathised with both families on their tragic losses.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Ryan’s brother Colin thanked those involved in the search and rescue operation.
He paid special tribute to the members of the Irish Coastguard, Baltimore RNLI, the gardai and the Civil Defence, as well as the people of West Cork for the support they have given the Ryan, Davis and O’Connor families