Man dies after falling into sea near Portstewart harbour

Stanley Duncan Stanley Duncan was chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Agency

A man has died after falling into the sea near Portstewart harbour in County Londonderry.

He was Stanley Duncan, 57, from Comber, who was chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland.

Mr Duncan had been fishing at rocks close to Harbour Hill shortly before 17:00 BST on Tuesday when the incident happened.

Other fishermen held onto him while emergency teams were called.

The father-of-two was recovered from the water by the Portrush inshore lifeboat and taken to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.

Chris Little from Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Team said: "The lifeboat was able to recover him very quickly.

"His location had been given very clearly by the person who made the initial call. With sea conditions being very calm, it was quite easy to see.

"Two people who had been fishing near the gentleman had gone to his assistance and managed to hold him against the rocks until the lifeboat crew could recover him.

"He received immediate attention before being transferred to the Causeway Hospital."

Shock

Mr Little said that sea conditions were good on Tuesday and it was unlikely that the man had been swept into the water by a wave.

"It seems more likely that, for some reason, he fell in," he said.

Mr Duncan died after falling into the sea near Portstewart harbour

Coleraine Coastguard Rescue Team, the RNLI inshore lifeboat from Portrush, Portstewart RNLI beach lifeguards and the Irish Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Sligo all attended the scene.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said Mr Duncan would be greatly missed.

"I have worked with Stanley Duncan for the last two years and he was well known to my assembly colleagues," he said.

"He knew the importance and value of the work of the DVA, in particular the DVA centre in Coleraine. He was committed to the DVA and committed to the public service."

Mr Duncan had been a member of the Crescent Church in Belfast for many years, latterly as a church elder.

David Farrell from the church said everyone was shocked by the death.

He was a "great friend, a man you could trust and who was loved by everybody".

"He was engaged in activities ranging from youth work, right through to working with the elderly.

"He'll be very, very sorely missed by us as a congregation."

Three former environment ministers paid tribute to Mr Duncan.

In a joint statement, the DUP's Arlene Foster, Edwin Poots and Sammy Wilson said: "The news of Stanley's death has come as a great shock and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.

"We always found Stanley to be a very reliable and honourable man and he will be greatly missed by all those who came into contact with him."

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