US College thanks Coast Guard after rescue

US College thanks Coast Guard after rescue


Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

The President of a US college has thanked emergency services here for a daring rescue operation to save a football player and coach after they fell over 30ft while hiking at the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare last week.

Last Wednesday, the crew of an Irish Coast Guard helicopter airlifted the two men from the base of Aill Na Searrach after local volunteers from the Doolin station located the casualties.

The men, a coach and player from a US college football team, had been hiking at the cliffs when they decided to make the descent down a dangerous goat track just north of the highest point of the Moher range.

Three men made their way down the treacherous track where, close to the base, two fell from a height onto rocks below. The third man, also believed to be a student from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, was uninjured.

The injured coach has been named as Carter Conley who is Centre College’s football team defensive coordinator. The identity of the student has not been released because of the college’s strict confidentiality laws.

Doolin Coast Guard members at the base of the cliff – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017
Mr Conley is still being treated for serious injuries at University Hospital Limerick. He suffered “very serious fractures” including a spinal injury in the fall. His wife Christina, a trained nurse, arrived in Ireland last week and has remained at his bedside.

There’s no information available on the condition of the student who was flown to University Hospital Galway, also with serious injuries.

It has also emerged that it would have taken as long as six ours to recover the injured men from the base of the cliff if the helicopter had been unable to airlift them.

Members of the Doolin unit of the Irish Coast Guard have carried several recovery operations at the same location however, depending on weather conditions and light, these have taken up to six hours. Volunteers have had to abseil down and painstakingly haul stretchers up the steep cliff.

Last Wednesday however, while conditions were not ideal they were still safe enough for the helicopter crew to get in close to the base of the cliff to airlift the casualties in two separate operations.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2017

Centre College President Dr. John A. Roush has thanked the emergency services for their efforts and bravery.

“On behalf of Centre College – and all of our students, faculty, and staff – I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the brave members of the Irish Coast Guard who helped rescue one of our football coaches and a student-athlete from the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.”

Over the years, many of our citizens and members of our campus community have enjoyed taking in not only the beauty of Ireland but also the kindness and hospitality of its people. We know firsthand that the Irish mean it when they say, Céad Míle Fáilte.

We will remain forever in their debt and count our many blessings that the Coast Guard team brought members of our community to safety, and we thank the men and women in hospitals in Galway and Limerick for their care as well. From Kentucky to Ireland we offer our heartfelt gratitude. Or better yet, go raibh maith agaibh,” Dr Roush concluded.

Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.