Naval divers and Coastguard units continued scouring the waters and coast of Kerry Head for the remains of a Polish man into Tuesday evening – nearly a week after he fell into the sea while fishing at the popular angling spot.
He was fishing with two other males, both close relatives, when the incident occurred on Wednesday evening last, August 27, shortly before 9pm.
It is believed that he lost his footing on rocks at the water’s edge while casting and slipped into the sea, with the other adult male in his company leaping after him in a frantic attempt to rescue the man.
However, he got into difficulty himself, barely making it back to safety as the third member of the party, a teenager, looked on helplessly.
The Kerryman understands that the man had arrived to Ireland just days previously in a visit from his native Poland to relatives living in Kerry. He had travelled to the popular angling spot west of the village of Ballyheigue to fish for mackerel, it’s understood.
It was the latest of a number of tragic drownings off Kerry Head in recent decades, at the exact same spot as the last fatal incident.
Coastguard units were at the scene within minutes of the call-out on Wednesday evening, with local units from Glenderry and Banna among those scrambling into action.
Both the Shannon and Waterford Coastguard helicopters were also deployed in the search, as was the Fenit RNLI Lifeboat, monitoring the water for any sign of the man.
Bad weather hampered the initial stages of the search in last week’s volatile conditions, however.
Irish Navy vessel, the LÉ Niamh was also deployed to the scene and helped co-ordinate the operation, with Irish Navy divers joining the search at the weekend.
Divers with the Mallow Search and Rescue unit meanwhile travelled to Kerry Head to help widen the net underwater on Saturday, again, sadly, to no avail.
The Coastguard also continues to comb the coast on land, with scores of members tasked with carefully walking the shoreline for miles in both directions of the incident for any sign of the individual.
As of Tuesday evening, no sign of the man had been found.
Rescuers say that the operation will continue apace for the rest of the week, with the expectation of greater numbers of personnel at the weekend if required once more.
It is unusual that such a wide-ranging operation would fail to achieve a result after so many days, despite the best efforts of all involved.
However, there is a growing suspicion among some in the coastal emergency services that climate change is affecting the outcome of many such operations.
Up until five years ago, the vast majority of marine rescue searches brought closure to grief-struck families, but in recent years the success rate has plummeted – possibly due to changes in traditional currents as a result of the rising temperature of the Atlantic.