Inquest recommends warning signs at River Suir whirlpool blackspot in Carrick-on-Suir

Aileen Hahesy

Reporter:

Aileen Hahesy

Inquest recommends warning signs at River Suir whirlpool blackspot in Carrick-on-Suir

The late Stephen Hoare, who drowned in the River Suir in Carrick-on-Suir on June 19.

The erection of public signs warning of the dangers of swimming in a whirlpool blackspot in the River Suir in Carrick-on-Suir was called for at an inquest in Clonmel last Friday into the death of a 25 year-old man who drowned there on a sunny day in June. 

The jury in the inquest into the death of Stephen Hoare also recommended that Tipperary Co. Council consider providing a lifeguard service in the safer traditional swimming areas in Carrick-on-Suir during the summer months. 

South Tipperary Coroner Paul Morris sent a letter to Tipperary Co. Council this week outlining his recommendations, which were adopted by the inquest jury. 

The jury returned a verdict that Mr Hoare's death was due to drowning consistent with accidental death. His body was recovered from the Suir by Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue volunteers at or near the location known as the Nagivation between Carrickbeg and Lower Ballylynch, Carrick-on-Suir. 

In written depositions read to the inquest,  four young eye witnesses described seeing Stephen Hoare being pulled by the river current into a whirlpool and vanish under the water. 

Gda. Pat Kelly, one of the gardai involved in the search and rescue operation, described to the inquest why the Navigation area of the Suir was so dangerous. He outlined that the Navigation was where the tidal waters of the Waterford Estuary and the River Suir waters meet creating a “vortex” like the spinning of a  washing machine. It was highly dangerous and produced extremely strong currents.

He said the danger of swimming in the Navigation area of the Suir was known locally in Carrick-on-Suir but may not be known  to younger generations. He pointed out there were a lot of new houses in the Carrickbeg area, which meant there was a large population of young people and also residents not native to the town. 

Stephen Hoare's brother Martin Hoare recounted to the inquest that his brother had been a good swimmer but the river was too strong for him. He described how he and Stephen took a walk down the river bank at the back of Ormond Castle between 4pm and 4.30pm on June 19. They could hear people talking and laughing and went to see what all the fun was about.  When they reached the river bank, he could see people at the opposite side of the Castle at Carrickbeg.  

His brother waded into the water and showed him it was not deep. He went further out and began to swim and then he could see he was gone out too far. Martin said he shouted at his brother to come back and saw Stephen turn around and try to swim back.

 "At this stage I could see the water was too strong and he could not seem to get back. It was pulling Stephen downstream to the deepest part of the River. " 

Martin described hearing Stephen shout "help" and then he lost sight of him as there were trees and bushes in the way. He couldn't go into the river because he was unable to swim.  The people on the far back shouted across to him that Stephen had gone under. 

"I could see some of the kids, who were on the opposite side, trying to swim out to where Stephen had gone down.  The current was too strong for them. I could see something like a log being thrown in by the kids for him to grab on to if he did come up." 

Martin rang 911 and was immmediately put through to the Coast Guard Service to show the helicopter crew where he thought Stephen had gone under. While the search was going on, he walked over to the opposite site of the river bank at Carrickbeg and later went to Dillon Bridge where he was informed Stephen had been recovered. He said his brother did not consume any alcohol on the day. 

Gda. Kelly said Stephen Hoare's body was recovered from the river at 6.17pm.  The ambulance crew at the scene performed rescuscitation and Dr Meabh Darmody pronounced death at 7.02pm. 

Speaking after the inquest, Martin Hoare said both he and his late brother Stephen were homeless when the tragedy happened. He welcomed the coroner and inquest jury's recommendations and hoped the erection of warning signage on the river bank would h