Search continues for missing Piker as boat is found in lough

The search for missing angler
The search for missing angler

Two weeks after the devastating Lough Ree boating accident in County Westmeath, RNLI rescuers have vowed they will continue the search for missing Portadown Piker Daryl Burke “while there remains the slightest hope of finding his body”.

Hopes rose midweek when the 15-foot boat containing father-of-three Daryl (27) and fellow anglers David Warnock (30) and John Trimble (60) was found in five metres of water. The boat was swept away by a freak wave 45 minutes after they set off for an angling weekend that turned to tragedy.

Richhill man David Warnock died in Galway University Hospital after being pulled from the water, and John Trimble from Markethill survived, to rejoin the search after five days in Ballinasloe Hospital.

But despite finding the boat, Daryl’s body remains missing. Damien Delaney, operations manager of the Lough Ree RNLI, said, “As long as there is hope we will keep going. We are disappointed that Daryl’s body wasn’t close to the boat, but we are widening the search around the place where the boat turned up.

“We are ever hopeful, and have used scanners to assist our search, and the divers have also worked relentlessly. We hope and pray for the sake of his family that we can find him.”

Daryl’s wife Louise – who is expected their fourth child and first daughter – has rarely left the rescue HQ at Hodson Bay on the lough shore. The entire family – including his parents Aubrey and Denise are fraught with anxiety. Their three sons are William (7), Callum (4) and Brooklyn (2). Aubrey told the Portadown Times from the scene, “We just want to take our son back home and have closure on all this.”

And it has been learned that Louise travelled up the lake at the weekend with other family members to lay a wreath where Daryl was last seen alive.

Upper Bann MP David Simpson and Cllr Darryn Causby went to Westmeath on Tuesday to sympathise with the family.