Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Canoe tragedy

There has been extensive media coverage in the north of Scotland about the canoeing tragedy off Arnol and Bragar, on the West Side of Lewis. Image above shows the coastline near Bragar.

Sixty-year old Joe McTaggart and his 12-year old son Daniel set out in a canoe from their home village of Arnol yesterday (Monday) afternoon. It would appear that they got into difficulties fairly soon after setting forth. A woman out on the shore near the neighbouring village of Bragar noticed a canoe with two people on the water. When she found the canoe washed up on the beach at Bragar 15 minutes later, she raised the alarm with the Coastguard.

Yesterday evening, five coastguard teams from across Lewis combed 5 miles of coastline between Shawbost and Barvas, assisted by the coastguard helicopter and the Stornoway lifeboat. Joe McTaggart was found in the water, and was transported to Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway, where he was pronounced dead. His son was still missing, but the search continued until light started to fail at 10.30pm.

This morning at 3.30 am, at first light, the search was resumed, but after several sweeps of the coastline the lifeboat and helicopter were stood down. A shoreline search will continue through today and beyond. A large number of local people have assisted police and coastguard in looking for Daniel.

Mrs McTaggart, speaking on regional television this evening, said that although a slim chance remained for her son to be found alive, she was resigned to her loss, and was convinced that she would meet up with her loved ones in a better place.

I would like to express my sympathies to the family at this sad time.

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