BBC Homepage  

World Service  


Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 01:40 GMT


Hope fades for dinghy tragedy men

The men were all local to Iona, known worldwide for its abbey

Search teams say they have all but abandoned hope for three men missing at sea after their dinghy capsized between the islands of Iona and Mull off the west coast of Scotland.

The BBC’s Andrew Cassell: “With every passing hour, hopes are fading”

The body of a fourth man was found on the shore and a fifth member of the group, Gordon Grant, 33, is recovering in hospital after raising the alarm.

Mr Grant, nicknamed Pal, is believed to have been a friend of one of the daughters of former Labour leader John Smith, who is buried on Iona and whose family has strong links with it.

Catherine Smith, 25, was reported to have visited Mr Grant in hospital at Oban on the mainland.

Her mother Baroness Smith said: “It is ghastly. I know the people involved, and we are desperately sad.”

Scotland Correspondent Colin Blane: Tragedy will have shattering effect on the tiny island

A big search – co-ordinated by Oban coastguard – recovered the wooden boat the five men had been in and several items of clothing.

The body of one of the men – 23-year-old Robert Hay – was found on the shore but three of his friends remain unaccounted for.

All five men were tipped into the sea after setting off from Ffionphort on Mull where they had been to a dance.

Mr Grant swam ashore and reached a farmhouse where he raised the alarm.

The search area is a large one because of the effects of winds and tides.

[ image:  ]

Many local people have taken part in the operation – which included helicopters, lifeboats and fishing vessels.

They will be joined on Monday by an underwater unit from Strathclyde police. The search is likely to be hampered by poor weather.

The three missing men are Logie MacFadyen, 24, from Laggan Dorain, Alisdair Dougal, 19, and David Kirkpatrick, 23, both from Iona.

Church of Scotland minister Reverand David Taylor said: “We have lost four young men, and this has taken away so many of the young people of Iona.

“There are not that many young people who live on Iona and the loss of so many has devastated the islanders. The mood will be very sombre.

“It has knocked the heart out of the island.”

Community stunned

Tony Arden, District Controller of Oban Coastguard, said Mr Grant described the dinghy as being “swamped”.

Mr Arden said none of the men was wearing a lifejacket. He told BBC News 24: “They weren’t raging drunk, they were just enjoying themselves. They were chatting in the dinghy, a large wave broke over the bow, swamping the boat which soon turned on its side and capsized.”

The tragedy has stunned the tiny community of Iona, birthplace of Christianity in Scotland, whose small permanent population of under 200 is swollen by hundreds of visitors in the summer months.

Mr Grant is the son of a prominent Iona businessman who owns shops, property and a pub on the islands.

[ image: Tobermory on Mull: The men went to a dance on the island]
Tobermory on Mull: The men went to a dance on the island

His mother said: “This is a desperate thing to have happened in a small community like this. We are so short of good young people.

“Gordon can swim, but I would not describe him as a good swimmer.”

A police spokesman said: “He is badly shaken but has only a slight facial injury. He seems to be in reasonable condition.”

The dance was held at the Argyll Arms hotel in Bunessan, where proprietor Duncan MacLeod said: “Everybody on Iona will be devastated, stunned.

“We have only been here two years, but we know the lads reasonably well.”

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©
<img src=””> <p><img src=”//″ height=”1″ width=”1″ alt=”” /></p>

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Internet Links

The Coastguard Agency

Islands of Mull and Iona

Community of Iona

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs’ surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord’s

Beef row ‘compromise’ under fire

Hamilton ‘would sell mother’

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby’s return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM’s plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold ‘cure’ comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers’

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl’s diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s