THE DUMBARTON DEMOCRAT

NATIONAL NEWS AND OPINION FROM A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

DROWNING DRAMA AT DONEGAL ISLAND PIER

Locals say vehicle was turning on Arranmore Island when it became submerged into sea

Arranmore Ferry sign and the ferry itself at Burtonport.

By Stephen Maguire 

People in Dumbarton, Clydebank and Glasgow with family connections in Donegal were shocked to learn this morning that one man has drowned and another escaped after an accident on Arranmore Island off the coast of Donegal.

The accident happened overnight when a car slipped off the island pier and two men in the car became trapped when it sank underwater. Only one of the men escaped.

The man who lost his life in a freak accident off the coast of Donegal has been named locally.

 Lee Earley, 26, pictured below, from Arranmore Island died when his car slipped into the sea off Poolawaddy Pier.

Early Lee

The tightly-knit island community, which has a population of around 450 people, are grieving  following the tragic accident.

Another man in his 30s was lucky to escape after the men’s car went into the sea at Poolawaddy Pier just after 5am this on Sunday morning.

It has since been revealed that Mr Early, who worked on the Arranmore Ferry, was also a volunteer on the island’s RNLI lifeboat. His father,  Jimmy, is the coxswain.

Members of the lifeboat crew, whose station is close to the scene of the tragedy, rushed to save Mr Early and his friend after their car entered the water.

The passenger managed to swim free but Lee died at the scene despite heroic efforts of by the lifeboat crew members to resuscitate him.

RNLI area life-saving manager for Ireland, Owen Medland, said Lee’s death would be a huge loss to the island.

The ferry runs between Arranmore Island and Burtonport, which is the home place of retired Celtic goalkeeper, Packie Bonner.  Daniel O’Donnell and his wife, Majella, live nearby in Dungloe, south of Kincasslagh.

There is a big connection between Arranmore and the West of Scotland, where there were many Irish immigrants last century.

Local sources say the men may have been trying to turn the car on the pier when it slipped into the sea.

One managed to get out of the vehicle but one was left trapped inside.

A full Garda investigation into the cause of the tragedy is underway.

It is not the first time such a tragedy has happened in Co Donegal.

On March 20th 2016, five people – Sean McGrotty (49), his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels (59) and her daughter Jodie-Lee (14) – died when Mr McGrotty’s Audi SUV 4X4 vehicle slid on “treacherous” algae and slipped into the sea at Lough Swilly. The couple’s baby, four-month-old Rioghnach-Ann, was rescued by passerby Davitt Walsh and was the sole survivor of the tragedy.


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