Body of second Irishman found after Ecuador kayaking accident

The body of a missing Irishman has been found in central Ecuador following a kayaking accident.

David Higgins, 26, died after getting into difficulty during a flash flood on the Abanico river, in the south-east of the country.

The Kerry native, who lived in Galway, had been kayaking with 19-year-old Alex McGourty, from Sligo, whose body was discovered shortly after the incident, and three other men.

Two have been found safe, but one remains missing.

US kayaker Jeremiath Stewart was rescued on Saturday, while Ecuadorian Joaquin Meneses was recovered two days later, on Monday.

The World Class Kayak Academy in Washington posted a photograph of Mr Meneses on Facebook and said he was safe.

After what has been an unbelievably tragic few days, words can't describe what it feels like to see this photo. WCA alum...

Posted by World Class Kayak Academy on Monday, January 22, 2018

The post said: "After what has been an unbelievably tragic few days, words can't describe what it feels to see this photo.

"WCA alum Joaquin Meneses, after missing for two days in the Ecuadorian jungle near the town of Macas, has been found and is safe. The entire community is in our hearts and minds."

The fifth member of the group, Englishman Adam Vaughen, is still missing.

The team was caught by a flash flood in a very remote part of Ecuador.

Mr Higgins's body was found at 5pm local time on the banks of the Upano river, about 18.5 miles (30km) south of the Abanico river, the Morona Santiago local government said.

Just a few weeks ago Mr Higgins told friends that, while he enjoyed travelling, he missed home.

At new year, he wrote on Facebook: "Travelling is great, but Snapchat friends and Facebook memories are determined to remind me of the opportunity cost .... I miss the MOTHERLAND."

Tributes were paid to Mr McGourty on Monday, with friends describing him as an "absolute gentleman" and an "outstanding young man" who had "the world at his feet".

It is with profound sadness we announce the passing of club member and trainee-instructor Alex McGourty. Alex tragically...

Posted by Sligo Kayak Club on Sunday, January 21, 2018

Sligo Kayak Club, where he was a trainee instructor, said he "died while fulfilling his dreams, kayaking in Ecuador".

In a post on Facebook, the club said it believed the whole team had been caught by a flash flood.

It added: "It is with profound sadness we announce the passing of club member and trainee instructor Alex McGourty.

"Alex tragically died while fulfilling his dreams, kayaking in Ecuador."

Barry Mottershead wrote: "He was a solid guy, raised well, kind and hard working. His energy for life was infectious and it's sad to see him gone too soon, but on the up side he spent his life and particularly the last few years living the dream, something we can all aspire to. RIP brother."

Martin Duffy said: "Very very sad news - Alex was a truly outstanding young man - a credit to his parents and himself and a huge loss to the paddling community - RIP Alex you will be missed."

Ursula Gilrane wrote: "Such a tragic loss of a young life. What a brave and courageous young man."

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland said it was aware of both cases and that consular assistance was being provided.

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