A MAN has died after he fell into a loch while kayaking before dawn yesterday.
• The man was rescued along with two other men but died shortly after
• An emergency call was made to the Coastguard at 6am today
• The lifeboat from Tighnabruaich was launched and the rescue helicopter from Stornoway was scrambled.
The man, who was in his 20s, was rescued from Loch Fyne in Argyll along with two other men after one of their boats capsized.
All three were taken to Mid-Argyll Community Hospital in Lochgilphead where the man was pronounced dead. His family has been informed.
Belfast Coastguard, which covers the area, took the initial emergency call at about 6am. The RNLI lifeboat from Tighnabruaich was called to the scene as well as a coastguard rescue helicopter from Stornoway.
Strathclyde Police officers attended the scene at about 7:30am. Inquiries are continuing and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal. The condition of the other men is not life threatening.
Search and rescue crews found the men at Fionnphort, south of Tarbert on the eastern shore of Loch Fyne.
The coastguard said the winds were force 5 on the water at the time – around 19 knots – with moderate sea conditions. There was light rain in the area, according to the Met Office.
A spokeswoman for the coastguard was unable to confirm where the men had set out from, or why they were on the water before dawn.
Dave McBride, a sea kayak coach and guide based in Tarbert, said the area where the men were found is a popular spot for the sport.
He added: “The area is generally quite safe. If the winds were from the north, you could be blown away from the shore. They may have been doing night paddling, which can be quite interesting to do at a certain level of expertise.
“People don’t go out paddling a lot at night – they may have done it for fun or as part of a longer journey.”
The tragedy was the latest on a Scottish loch. In August, three children and an adult died on Loch Gairloch when their canoe capsized.
Garry Mackay and his daughter Callie, eight, managed to swim 500 metres to shore to raise the alarm. His five-year-old daughter Grace, his friend, Ewen Beaton, 32, and his two sons, Ewen, five and Jamie, two all died.
In March 2009, William Carty, 47, his brother Stephen Carty, 42, Thomas Douglas, 36, and Craig Currie, 30, drowned when their boat capsized in thick fog in Loch Awe.
Steve Carson, watch manager at Belfast Coastguard, urged kayakers to be prepared before going out on the water.
He said: “We were very concerned for these three kayakers. We were able to find them relatively quickly. In general, we would like to take this opportunity to give the following safety advice to kayakers: ensure that someone at home knows your passage plan including points of arrival and departure, timescale, number in group and other relevant information. Check weather forecasts and ensure that your skill levels are appropriate for where you are kayaking.
“Wear a buoyancy aid and check that equipment is functioning properly, that your distress flares are in date and are stowed where you can reach them.
“Carry a vhf marine band radio – fitted with DSC if possible. Learn how to use it and practise with it. Call the coastguard if you get into difficulty, preferably via channel 16 on your radio, or, if not, by calling 999 and asking for the coastguard.”