Searchers couldn’t believe their eyes when Portadown Piker John Trimble arrived straight from his hospital bed on Tuesday to help the search for his missing friend Daryl Burke at Lough Ree in County Westmeath.
Daryl’s dad Aubrey Burke, speaking from the scene, told the Portadown Times, “John actually went out on one of the boats searching the lough, so that he could help them pinpoint the last location where he saw Daryl after their boat capsized. I found it so moving. The weather here is horrendous and there’s a strong wind blowing. It’s such a courageous thing to do.
“The searchers actually changed the location slightly on John’s advice and hopefully it will make a difference. All we want is to find our son and it will give us closure.”
John had travelled from hospital in Ballinasloe – 20 miles to the north – to do what he could in the hunt for Daryl Burke rather than head home for Markethill.
Mr Burke added that his family – his son and daughter and wife – were all down in the area, hoping that the search would come to an end, in the knowledge that Daryl had been in the chilly depths of Lough Ree for the best part of a week.
He added, “It’s been a terrible time all round, with the death of David Warnock, and the disappearance of Daryl. But John’s courage and determination, and the fact that he actually survived the tragedy, have given us a lift. And the kindness of the people down here and up at home has been tremendous.
“We know that the people of Portadown are collecting food to sustain the searchers and bringing it down here tonight (Tuesday). That sort of kindness has certainly sustained us. And the people down here have been so caring and kind to us. I’ve never met people like them.”
The family is totally shattered by the disappearance of Daryl (30), a landscape gardener whose home is at Beech Grove off the Killicomaine Road – he and his wife Louise have three sons, William (7), Callum (4) and Brooklyn (2). And Mrs Burke is expecting a baby girl within the next few weeks.
Daryl’s mother Mrs Denise Burke is quoted in the Irish News – “I know he’s coming home, but not the way I want. I feel for his wife and his sons and the baby on the way he’s never going to see. Daryl was so chuffed when they found out at Christmas that they were going to have a wee girl. He lived for the kids and his wife.”
The search is being hampered by the fact that parts of Lough Ree have underwater visibility of just a couple of metres. But there has been no let-up in the search.