A GARDA and father of four has died after a freak diving accident off the Wexford coast.
The off-duty Garda was involved in a club dive on a old wreck on the seabed some 15km off the coast – with the dive club on standby to assist if required in the nearby search for missing Wexford fisherman Dominic Sinnott
The Garda, who is attached to a Traffic Corps unit in the south east and is in his mid 40s, is an accomplished diver and has received multiple awards for water rescues over the years.
He had saved seven lives in the space of just three years thanks to his water safety skills.
The diver previously worked with the Garda Water Unit.
He is a keen diver with a local marine sports club and they were engaged in a recreational dive on an old wreck some distance off the Wexford coast.
Some 10km away a search was ongoing for a fisherman who went missing off Hook Head on Friday.
The divers are understood to have been on standby to assist in that search if required.
However, they were not involved in the search for fisherman Dominic ‘Dom’ Sinnott when the tragic accident occurred.
Mr Sinnott vanished off the Wexford coast around lunchtime on Friday and a major search operation has been mounted for him, supported by rescue services.
The off-duty Garda suffered a severe attack of the ‘bends’ or decompression sickness as he apparently surfaced from the dive on the old wreck.
The incident occurred shortly after lunch today.
He was immediately assisted by dive colleagues and the Irish Coast Guard helicopter raced to the scene to assist in his transfer to hospital.
Rescue R117 had been airborne, with a number of RNLI lifeboats active in the area, as part of the search operation for Mr Sinnott.
Tragically, despite frantic attempts to stabilise the diver’s condition, he was pronounced before he could be transferred to University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and a special decompression unit.
Gardai in Waterford and Wexford have expressed shock at the tragedy and the death of a hugely respected colleague.
“The entire force is in shock,” one Garda involved in search and rescue operations said.
“He was the nicest guy you could ever work alongside.”
“He has received numerous awards over the years for his commitment to life saving.”
“It is hard to credit that someone who devoted so much to helping others should lose his life in circumstances like these.”