Second helicopter joins search for missing swimmer at Tullan

Second helicopter joins search for missing swimmer at Tullan
Michael Daly @dgldemocrat

A second helicopter from the Defence Forces, an Air Corps AW139, has joined the Rescue 118 Coast Guard helicopter in the ongoing search for a soldier who remains missing after he got into difficulties on Tuesday evening at Tullan Strand near Bundoran.

A major search operation is being coordinated by The Irish Coast Guard from Malin Head with Killybegs and Bundoran RNLI units assisting while more than 100 members of the Defence Forces are searching the coastline from Bundoran /Ballyshannon and beyond.

A Naval Service Dive team was due to arrive on the scene this evening and will also offer assistance.

Lt Col Stephen Howard, OC at Finner Camp, (pictured above), told the Donegal Democrat that the missing man was not being named until they were satisfied all relatives and next of kin had been informed.

He’s understood to be 28 years old and from County Westmeath.

Family members and the man’s partner were at the search scene from first light this morning having arrived on Tuesday evening.

Lt Col Howard confirmed five soldiers went into the water, three of them got into difficulty. Two of those who were rescued were brought to Sligo University Hospital where they were treated for cuts and bruises sustained on the rocks as they were taken from the water.

He stated: “Unfortunately yesterday evening three members of the Defence Forces encountered difficulties when swimming here at Tullan. Two of the Defence Force members were rescued, but unfortunately, one is still missing.

“The missing soldier’s next of kin are being supported by our personnel and support services here on location and at Finner Camp. The missing Defence Force member was in Finner Camp attending a course, but his normal base is Custume Barracks in Athlone.”

Commenting on the search he added: “We have sufficient capacity to conduct a search but if locals want to come down and assist, their first point of contact would be the Coast Guard in Malin Head.”

Our pictures show the scene this morning as the Coast Guard helicopter sweeps in close to the Roguey Cliffs. Also pictured is Lt Col Stephen Howard, OC 28th Inf Bttn, Ffinner Camp who spoke to the Donegal Democrat at the scene.