Tributes paid to missing Cork men
“A hard working guy who gave life everything he had". That is how current UCC hockey player Graham Catchpole described his former teammate Dr Elmer Morrissey.
“You would call Elmer Mr UCC,” Graham continue. “He was such a committed player to hockey. He wasn’t the most skillful of players but he made up for that with his determination. I played with Elmer for a couple of years and he had an incredible focus about him.
"You would meet him around UCC and he would always have time for you. He is just that kind of guy. It was impossible not to smile when you met him around campus. He was a gent.”
Dr Morrissey is one of two Cork men that are missing after being swept overboard from their yacht off the coast of San Francisco on Saturday.
The other man is 36 year old Alan Cahill who has been living in Tiburon in California for many years. Mr Cahill, who is a father of two, is an experienced sailor and is originally from Blarney.
Dr Morrissey, who is from Glounthaune, is a PhD graduate of UCC where he studied energy engineering. He has been living in San Francisco for just under a year where he took up a position in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a post-doctorate.
“He has been living in California for about a year now,” said Graham, “and it was of no surprise to me that he had progressed from UCC to Berkeley. Elmer was highly intelligent and he excelled at everything in engineering while he was in UCC.
"You could see from his updates on Facebook that he was having the time of his life in California. He was a very active guy and he always wore the skull and crossbones with such passion. That was typical of Elmer. It is an incredibly sad time for everyone. All of our sympathies at UCC Hockey club go out to Elmer’s family at this time.”
The boat that Dr Morrissey and Mr Cahill were on got in to difficulty when powerful waves hit during a yacht race which then caused the boat to hit rocks around surrounding islands of San Francisco.
There was eight people on board at the time and all were ejected in to the water. Three survived while one body was recovered and two others, as well as the two Cork men, are still missing.
Shortly after the alarm was raised on Saturday air units from the Coast Guard and California Air National Guard lifted off. Helicopter crews quickly rescued three of the sailors using motorised winches and litter baskets. The body of Marc Kasanin, a Californian man, was also quickly recovered.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is liaising with its consulate in San Francisco to provide assistance to the families involved.
Dr Dominic O’ Sullivan, of the Department and Civil and Environmental Engineering in UCC, did his PhD in the University at the same time as Dr Morrissey. He said: “Elmer is a very popular guy who enjoys all outdoor activities. Our thoughts are with him and his family.”
The US Coastguard has taken the decision to suspend its search on the basis that the “window of survivability” has passed.