Updated: 14/12/16 : 05:08:07
Printable Version   Bookmark and Share Share This

current

Sligo windfarm fatal incident victim named

Tributes have been paid to an engineer killed in a 'freak' accident on the site of a new wind farm.

Patrick McCaffrey (37) from Rossinver, Co Leitrm died on Monday evening after a landslide on a mountain bog on the Sligo-Roscommon border where groundworks for turbines were being carried out.

Gardai said the alarm was raised at about 6.30pm.

The accident happened after darkness fell on Monday evening at a new wind farm site in the townland of Gubbarudda just inside Co Sligo and 3km from the village of Ballyfarnon.

But it was several hours before the worker’s body could be recovered from the mountain as emergency services, including fire crews, were hampered due to the difficult terrain and fog.

The operation included gardaí from Ballymote and Boyle, fire services from Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim, workers and neighbours who arrived to help.

Sligo/Leitrim Mountain Rescue were involved in the search however because of the weather conditions the Coast Guard Rescue 118 helicopter, based in Sligo, was unable to take part.

Located

The body of Mr McCaffrey was located by the fire service using thermal imaging and was recovered after 2am. His wife Helen had been taken to the scene of the accident and watched the recovery operation.

The incident happened on part of a wind farm known as Derrysallagh which is in the initial stages of being built on Kilronan mountain near Ballyfarnon, Co Roscommon by the Kerry-based Moriarty civil engineering and construction company.

Mr McCaffrey had been with the company for about a year.

Mr McCaffrey was on foot at the site, 330 metres above sea level, while a colleague was working in a digger when the landslide happened "suddenly", Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue said.

The men, along with the digger, were understood to have been moved at least 150m by the slippage. The man on the digger was unhurt and able to climb down and walk to safety but Mr McCaffrey was trapped.

Moriarty Construction offered condolences to the dead man’s wife, family, colleagues and friends.

“It’s still very fresh and very raw. We don’t know all the circumstances but unfortunately a man has died and his wife has been left to pick up the pieces,” a spokesman said.

Devastated

The company has not experienced any similar incidents in its previous works. It has been involved in about a fifth of the wind farms constructed in Ireland since 2003.

Patrick and his wife Helen, who is originally from Tullaghan, Co Leitrim, moved to the Rossinver area four years ago.

The couple were left devastated a year ago after losing their newborn baby.

Philip Rooney, chair of the Rossinver Youth and Community Project, said the local community was rallying around Helen after the tragedy.

Mr McCaffrey was heavily involved in community work in Rossinver and was part of the Pride of Place awards team.

Investigations are under way by local gardai and the Health and Safety Authority and Moriarty said it would co-operate fully with investigations.