‘He tried so hard to swim to shore’ – Inquiry hears of medical student’s tragic death while swimming on Howth beach

A final year medical student drowned after getting caught in a strong current while swimming at a remote beach in Howth, Co Dublin last year, an inquest has said.

li Feras Hejazi, 26, died after getting into trouble while bathing at Hidden Beach near the Baily Lighthouse in Howth on April 2, 2021.

Mr Hejazi, a Saudi national who grew up in Doha, Qatar, had come to Ireland to study in 2013 and was in his final year of medical studies at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland at the time of his death.

An inquest before the Dublin County Coroner today found evidence from two eyewitnesses of how Mr Hejazi, who had been living in Dublin 8 at the time, appeared to have difficulty coming back to shore shortly after going into the water.

In a statement, Anna Nieznalska said she was passed by Mr Hejazi on the steep walk down a cliff and he was in the water when she arrived at the beach.

Ms. Nieznalska said he only went out to his shoulder height and swam back and forth parallel to the shore.

She recalled thinking he was very brave because the water was so cold, but also that he looked “quite experienced” as a swimmer.

After Ms. Nieznalska heard his cries for help, Ms. Nieznalska said Mr. Hejazi appeared to be fighting against the current to try to come ashore but was fighting the waves.

She said some people on the beach found a fishing buoy and threw it at the swimmer, but he couldn’t reach it despite being only about a foot away from him.

“He tried so hard to swim to shore but the current was too strong and prevented him from getting close to shore,” she added.

Ms Nieznalska said she called the Irish Coastguard but Mr Hejazi was swept away by the current before help arrived.

Another witness, Leticia de Castro, said she saw the deceased come down the steps to the beach around midday and that he started screaming for help minutes after he started swimming.

Ms de Castro said she and two others who were at Hidden Beach began looking around for something they could use to save him.

Ms de Castro said she realized there was nothing she could do to help the swimmer and a short time later she saw his body floating on the surface of the water.

A paramedic, Jamie Holland, said an Irish Coastguard helicopter was needed to take Mr Hejazi off the beach and up the cliff to a waiting ambulance where efforts were being made to resuscitate the swimmer.

However, he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at Beaumont Hospital.

Another student and the victim’s roommate, Khalad Malallah, described his late friend as “pure in heart” as well as “very intelligent and very innocent”.

In a statement, Mr Malallah said he believed Mr Hejazi was a very good swimmer, regularly using the pool at Iveagh Fitness Club as well as the sea at Howth and Bray.

He dismissed any suggestion that his friend’s death could have been suicide and said Mr Hejazi was also “very religious”.

Security manager at the Saudi embassy in Dublin, Mokhtar Addani, said the victim’s body was taken to the mosque in Clonskeagh for a religious ceremony before being repatriated to Qatar on April 8 last year.

Garda Clodagh Sharkey told the inquest there was nothing suspicious about the death, while a post-mortem confirmed Mr Hejazi died as a result of drowning.

The coroner, Aisling Gannon, returned a verdict of accidental death.

Ms Gannon expressed her condolences to Mr Hejazi’s family, who took part in the inquiry via video link, on the loss of their loved one in what she described as a “tragic accident”.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/he-was-trying-so-hard-to-swim-to-shore-inquest-hears-of-medical-students-tragic-death-swimming-at-howth-beach-41837835.html ‘He tried so hard to swim to shore’ – Inquiry hears of medical student’s tragic death while swimming on Howth beach

Fry Electronics Team

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