Saturday, March 21, 2009

Two pike anglers dead, two missing on Loch Awe

Two pike anglers have died and two others are missing after getting into difficulties on Scotland's Loch Awe.

The dead men were last night named as William Carty, 47 and Craig Currie, 30.

Fears are growing for Mr Carty's 42-year-old brother Steven, and his friend Thomas Douglas, 36, who are still missing.

Police, coastguard and an RAF rescue helicopter searched an area of the loch near Kilchurn Castle after the alarm was raised in the early hours of Saturday.

The four men were part of a group of five anglers who had travelled from Glasgow to camp beside the loch and fish. Awe is a popular venue, which draws pike anglers from across Scotland.
Sky reported: "At about 11pm the four had headed towards a hotel on the other side of the loch in a small boat, leaving the fifth man sleeping in one of the tents.

"At 3am the fifth man awoke to discover his friends had still not returned and then heard screams for help and raised the alarm. Firefighters from Oban, Inverary and Dalmally raced to the loch to help.

"On arrival at the scene next to the A819 firefighters could hear calls for help from the loch but could not see anyone because of the fog."

The BBC later said: "The men, who were on a fishing trip, had been camping on the banks of the loch, near Kilchurn Castle, close to Dalmally, and were thought to be from north Glasgow.

"A police spokesman said they had decided to take a small boat across the loch to a hotel and left at about 2300 GMT on Friday, leaving one of the group at the campsite.

"At about 0300 GMT the 38-year-old man discovered his friends had not returned. He then heard them calling for help from the loch and alerted the emergency services but thick fog hampered their rescue efforts."
The bodies of Mr Carty and Mr Currie were recovered from the loch by rescue teams yesterday morning. The search for Steven Carty and Mr Douglas will resume today.

Marie Sommerville, landlady of the Tight Line pub which the men visited before the tragedy on Friday night, told the BBC: "They were just really nice guys. It's just unbelievable."

Her daughter Anna Price said they were "keen pike fishermen" who were regulars on Loch Awe.

She added: "It was just a hobby, but they were anglers, they were really good and very experienced.

"They weren't idiots in a boat. They knew what they were doing. We don't know what could have happened other than the fact that it was so foggy last night."

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue told Scotland on Sunday: "On arrival at the scene, the fire crews could hear calls for assistance from the loch. Unfortunately visibility was down to five metres and they could not see anyone.

"The officer in charge requested the assistance of a rescue boat from Renfrew Fire Station. A helicopter was also sent by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency but was unable to locate the missing persons because of the poor visibility.

"When the rescue boat arrived from Renfrew they rescued two male adults from the water. Both were wearing lifejackets. The two men were unconscious and in a poor condition. Sadly both were declared dead at the scene."

The Sunday Herald said low visibility hampered the search for the men. The Mail on Sunday said there were concerns over the time it took to launch a rescue boat.