More than 80 St Michael’s College students are beginning to make their way home from the Greek island of Ios after the tragic deaths of two of their schoolmates.
18-year-olds Max Wall and Andrew O’Donnell died in separate incidents on the Greek island this weekend in an “inconceivable tragedy” for the school and local community.
Andrew’s body was discovered yesterday morning in a rocky area near the island’s main town.
He had been reported missing by a friend who got separated from him while walking home the previous night and was found following an intensive search in the area.
It is believed he may have fallen on his way home.
Later on Sunday, having been involved in the search for his friend, Max Wall became ill near the port area of the island.
He was rushed to hospital, where he subsequently passed away.
On The Pat Kenny Show with Ivan Yates this morning, St Michael’s Principal Tim Kelleher said the entire school community is “absolutely heartbroken” for the boys and their families.
“Words escape you at this moment in time because it is the last phone call any parent wants to get when they see their teenagers heading off on a holiday or heading off to a gig or a concert or whatever else they might be doing,” he said.
“We are still trying to process it all to be honest with you and I think the shock is being felt now throughout the whole community.”
"The world was their oyster"
He said both boys were well-loved in the school and “had their whole lives ahead of them”.
“They were full of optimism, great fun, great sportsmen, academically very bright – the world was their oyster,” he said.
“There really would have been such positive contributions to be made in the years ahead by both of them but unfortunately they will not get that chance now.”
Mr Kelleher said around 80 or 90 students from St Michael’s Class of 2023 had travelled to the island for the holiday – and the Department of Foreign affairs believes as many as 1,000 Irish people are currently on the island.
“This is something that Leaving Cert students, at the end of six hard years, look forward to and plan with great intensity and it is such a tragedy that this has occurred so soon,” he said.
The school principal said most of the students are cutting their holiday short and are now making their way home.
“They are a wonderful group of young men and they are all deeply, deeply hurt by what has occurred,” he said. “They are suffering.”
A book of condolence has now been opened at the school and students and families are encouraged the contact the school for support.
Parents' representatives have already flown out to the island alongside a rep from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Greek police last night said they had opened two separate investigations into the deaths.
The body are being removed to Athens for autopsies, with the school hopeful they can be repatriated by the end of the week.