Two young Irish lives have been tragically cut short in an incident that has been likened to a Greek tragedy. Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, both 18 years old, were members of a school graduation excursion to the Aegean island of Ios. The Dublin classmates died hours apart in different areas of the Cycladic isle, leaving grief-stricken family and friends behind.
St Michael’s College Principal Tim Kelleher had nothing but fond words for the two boys. He described them as “bright, sporting, academic men” who had been looking forward to the trip for months. Tributes poured in from around the world as authorities announced that their bodies would be transferred to the port city of Piraeus near Athens for autopsies to be conducted.
Greek police are now investigating the deaths of these two promising teenagers as the nation mourns them both.
According to Brigadier Thanos Loukas of the Regional Police Directorate of South Aegean, O’Donnell was found on a path between the port and Ios Town, having presumably fallen. Wall, meanwhile, had died nearby his accommodation, although he reportedly had a history of heart problems. The cause of death in both cases is expected to become clearer with the results of the postmortems.
A source close to Wall said witnesses were deeply distressed when informed of what had happened. “It’s like an ancient Greek tragedy,” they added. Reports suggest that O’Donnell and others in the group had been drinking heavily before he decided to walk back to his room as night fell – prompting worried friends to raise the alarm with police soon after.
The events have been met with shock and disbelief by both locals and tourists alike, once again demonstrating the fragility of life.
Furthering the dismay, Ireland’s Minister for Further and Higher Education, Simon Harris, has released a statement regarding the situation, saying it is “devastating.” In his words, he sends his thoughts to the families of Andrew and Max as well to the leaving cert students who have suddenly been thrust into shock and grief.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is actively providing consular assistance with a staff member dispatched to the island in addition to family members taking flight. It can not be ignored that Ios, once a hippy retreat but now increasingly popular amongst young adults has drawn substantial numbers from Ireland in recent years.