Tragic river death claims life of Fermanagh worker

The scene at the Clady River in Donegal after the workman fell into the river.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a 65-year-old Fermanagh man whose body was recovered from a river in west Donegal following a major search and rescue operation earlier this week.
Investigations were continuing yesterday (Tuesday) following the tragic death of Ian Smith from the Ederney area. 
The operation was launched on Monday morning following reports that Mr Smith had been seen falling into the River Clady in Gweedore by a member of the public who then contacted the Malin Head Coast Guard. Emergency services including Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter, ambulance crews and gardai were tasked to the scene following the callout at 11am on Monday morning. 
Mr Smith’s body was later recovered  by divers around 200 yards downstream from the bridge at 2.40pm. 
His body was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital for a post-mortem examination and the incident is being referred to the Republic’s Health and Safety Authority who are undertaking their own investigation into the tragedy.
Mr Smith had been carrying out work to upgrade the Station Bridge at the time of his fall on behalf of Deane Public Works Ltd, a engineering firm based at Killadeas. The company was closed yesterday as a mark of respect to the deceased but in a statement said: 
“It is with immense sadness that one of our staff members, Ian Smith, has tragically passed while working on one of our construction sites in Donegal. Ian, who worked with us for 34 years, was a well-respected and highly valued member of the company. We are all extremely shocked and devastated at this tragic loss and extend our deepest sympathies to the entire family circle, friends and colleagues at this most difficult time.”
Mr Smith lived at Ardvarney in Ederney and was pre-deceased in recent years by his wife Rita and sister Ann Gault. He is survived by his two younger brothers Ashley and Richard, sister-in-laws Ann and Caroline, nieces and nephews. His funeral is due to take place tomorrow (Thursday) at 2pm at Ardess Parish Hall in Kesh with internment afterwards in the adjoining cemetery. A minute’s silence for Mr Smith was due to be held at the monthly meeting of Donegal County Council yesterday. 
Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton knew Mr Smith personally: “He was a very quiet, unassuming and hard working man who was from a well known family in the Kesh area. 
“Speaking with him at a function over Christmas, he was very much looking forward to the New Year and the building of the new hall at Dromard near Kesh, which he had a great interest in. In fact only last Saturday he was involved in voluntary preparation work for this new build. Most of all however my heartfelt sympathy goes to his immediate family. He will be greatly missed.”

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