The inquests into the deaths of two men who drowned on a fishing trip off the southwest coast of Donegal last year heard today that they appeared to be inexperienced and had been drinking.
The men - Rimantas Barauskas, 56, who lived in Oldcastle, Co Meath and Raimundas Jezdauskas, 33, who lived in Ballymahon, Co Longford - were originally from Lithuania.
Mr Barauskas’ son, Andreas, told Donegal town court that he had bought the boat in March, and had used it at least once a month before the tragedy in July but had never done any courses in relation to it.
The pair had set off from the pier at Teileann on Sunday 9 July 2017. They were seen launching a white rigid inflatable boat by a local man who runs a charter fishing service, Paddy Byrne.
Mr Byrne said he knew by the way they launched and handled the RIB that they were fairly inexperienced.
The following morning he noticed that their car was parked in the same place at the pier and he alerted the emergency services.
Their bodies were found on the morning of 10 July. Mr Barauskas's body was discovered by a local man washed up on the shore at Málinn Bhig and debris from the boat was found on the rocks nearby.
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When he was found Mr Barauskas was not wearing a life jacket but one was found strapped to the seat in the boat. The body of Mr Jezdauskas was found floating in the sea by members of the RNLI. He was wearing a personal flotation device.
The evidence to the inquests was that the day had begun fine but westerly winds picked up as it went on and Mr Byrne said that he had not been able to sail after 6pm that day.
Cian McNulty of Bundoran RNLI said from what he knows of the area with Rathlin O’Beirne island and the tidal movement, the area can be treacherous with lots of submerged rocks and outcrops.
No anchor was found with the boat and the inquest heard that this would have been essential and could have prevented it going on the rocks. The fuel tank in the boat was full.
The medical evidence was that both men had died as a result of drowning but that both had elevated alcohol levels.
Mr Barauskas would have been seven times over the drink-driving limit for alcohol, according to the coroner Dr Denis McCauley.
Dr McCauley said that the probability was that as the wind rose, it pushed the boat into a narrow channel where there were rocks and it bounced, capsized and deflated.
He said that the men’s deaths were accidental and very sad but their decision-making would have been impaired by alcohol and so he returned a verdict of death by misadventure.