Irishman killed, two other foreigners are missing following Saturday kayak accident east of Loja

Jan 22, 2018 | 5 comments

A young Irishman was killed and two others, Irish and British citizens, are missing following a kayaking accident in Ecuador’s Amazon region.

Kayaker Alex McGourty is pictured with Ecuadorian children before Saturday’s accident.

Alex McGourty,19, from Sligo, died in the Saturday morning accident on the rain-swollen Rio Abanico, in Morona Santiago province.

Irishman David Higgins and British citizen Adam Vaughn were still missing on Monday as a result of the accident.

Ecuador white water guide Joaquin Meneses, who was originally listed among the missing, was found alive Monday morning. Rescue workers said he had suffered cuts and bruises but was otherwise in good condition.

Also surviving the accident was U.S. white water athlete Jeremiah Stewart, who said the current became “outrageously strong and almost unsurvivable.” Stewart, who made it to shore after his kayak capsized said he watched his friends disappear beneath the rough water.

Ecuadorian white water guide Joaquín Meneses was found alive Monday morning.

McGourty, a member of Sligo Kayak Club, had been kayaking through North and South America for a number of years after qualifying for the World Kayak Academy.

Eddie Loftus, from Sligo Kayak Club, told the Irish Independent last night that the community was reeling from the tragedy. He said that McGourty was a talented kayaker and a kind young man who often volunteered with the club, training young people with disabilities.

“He’ll be so missed around here, we were all so fond of him,” said Loftus. “Alex was a great kid, he was so unassuming too. He’d be the last one to tell you how skilful he was. He was on the trip of a lifetime over there. It’s truly heartbreaking.”

Local rescue teams, including police and firefighters, have joined in the search for the two missing men in the jungle area in southern Ecuador.

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