Naval divers join search for missing man

Irish Coast Guard members set off from Seafield Pier - Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
Irish Coast Guard members set off from Seafield Pier – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

Members of the Naval Service Diving Section have joined the search for a 19-year-old man missing in west Clare.

Stephen Mungovan was last seen at around 12.15am on Monday at his home at Caherush, Quilty. He had returned from a night socialising with friends.

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It’s feared that Stephen, who is a twin, may have fallen from a cliff close to his family home. It’s understood that his driving licence was later found on the rocks below.

At around 11.00am on Monday, when his family could find no trace of him, they contacted Gardaí to report him missing.

Gardaí in Ennistymon alerted the Irish Coast Guard marine rescue coordination centre on Valentia Island requested assistance with a search.

Volunteers from Kilkee and Doolin Coast Guard stations commenced land searches while the Shannon based search and rescue helicopter, Rescue 115,  carried out several sweeps of the area over over both sea and land.

A rescue boat had to be recalled for safety reasons as sea conditions deteriorated however land searches continue for several more hours.

On Tuesday, conditions had improved dramatically allowing both Kilkee and Doolin Coast Guard units launch their boats.

Rescue 115 carried a further search yesterday morning before being called away on another mission in Kerry. The helicopter returned to the Spanish Point area later in the afternoon and carried out further sweeps of the area.

Personnel from the Naval Service Diving Section arrived at Seafield near Quilty at around 3.00pm and soon launched their RIB (rigid inflatable boat).

Searches continued throughout the the day with as many as 75 locals and friends of the missing man also walking the shoreline and cliff tops in the hope of finding some trace of him.

Naval divers continued their efforts until well after sundown but found no trace of the missing man. Divers were due to resume their search early today.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015
Naval divers setting off from Seafield to commence their search – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2015

Kilkee Coast Guard officer in charge Martony Vaughan said: “The naval divers joined us on Tuesday afternoon and will continue diving through Wednesday. Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate from Thursday so we will do as much as we can between now and then. Whatever can be done is being done.”

One local man said: “My two eldest are great pals with the twins and they just don’t want to believe he’s gone. They are praying he’ll turn up and that they’ll be going out next weekend. I don’t know what to tell them because it just doesn’t look good.”

The Mungovan family suffered a tragedy in 2000 when Stephen’s older brother Michael died after being hit by a train while working for a contractor to British Rail. An inquest later ruled that Michael was unlawfully killed while two firms were fined for “systematic and avoidable failures” that led to the college student’s death.

The family attended an anniversary mass for the late Michael at the weekend.

The search for Stephen resumed this morning.

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