15 July 2009

Family Tragedy on the West Cork Coast

Divers from the Irish Naval Service, searching for a missing Polish man and his 13-year-old son off the coast of West Cork, have found and recovered a body near the Natural Arch, just south of Cod's Head.

The body has meanwhile been identified as that of the missing man, 40-year-old Piotr Latek. His son Matthias is still missing, and there is little hope to find him alive. The search for him has now been suspended for the night and will resume tomorrow morning.

Mr. Latek had been living in the area for about two years and was employed as a baker at the Breadcrumb Bakery in Kenmare, Co. Cork, while his wife and only son Matthias had remained in his native Poland.

A few days ago Matthias had arrived in Ireland to spend the summer holidays with his father. According to local sources, the two left Kenmare on Sunday morning in Mr. Latek's car to go on a fishing trip to the West Cork coast.

It is believed that they first did some fishing close to Kenmare, but then drove further down the coastal road towards Castletownbere and later to Allihies.

When local people noticed that they had not returned, an alarm was raised yesterday morning. Gardaí, the Coast Guard, lifeboats and local emergency services began a search of the area and soon found Mr. Latek's car, empty and parked at the entrance to a pathway, leading towards the dangerous rocks at Cod's Head, a very remote and exposed part of the rugged coastline.

Later some angling equipment - identified as belonging to Mr. Latek - was found on the rocks. But there was no sign of the missing father and son.

The search continued all day yesterday, but the Coast Guard became ever more doubtful that they would find the two missing Poles alive, two days after they had disappeared.

It is thought the father and son may have been swept from the rocks at Cod's Head in high winds and rough sea conditions.

John Falvey of the Coast Guard station on Valentia Island said that Gardaí and the emergency services were only alerted on Tuesday morning, and that on Sunday the conditions in the Cod's Head area were "windy, with strong gusts and high seas".

This morning a team of divers from the Naval Service joined the search and found the body of Mr. Latek in the water.
They will continue looking for 13-year-old Matthias Latek in the morning, but with almost no hope now to find him alive after four days.

The tragic death of Piotr Latek and presumed death of his young son has deeply shocked the local community in Kenmare and along the coast of West Cork. Accidents like this are quite rare, but they do occur from time to time, mostly when people unfamiliar with the terrain and the rough conditions on the rugged coastline are surprised by severe weather.

Meanwhile the dead man's father has arrived in Ireland, and his wife is expected tomorrow.

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