Two Irish teenagers from the same school have died in separate tragic incidents while on holiday on the Greek island of Ios, with local authorities saying one fell off a cliff and the other collapsed at a ferry port – leaving their classmates ‘traumatised’.
Recent graduates Andrew O’Donnell and his classmate Max Wall, both 18, are the second and third Irish nationals to die while holidaying in Greece within a week, sparking an urgent investigation by local authorities.
The twin tragedy first struck on Sunday when O’Donnell was out with a team of schoolmates from St Michael’s College.
Some time after midnight he decided to return to his hotel room alone, but never made it back, and was found by police at around 10.30am local time on Sunday.
His body showed signs of having fallen. Police spokesman Konstantine Dimoglidou suggested: ‘He must have taken a wrong path home, stumbling over a cliff.’
Andrew O’Donnell (left) and his classmate Max Wall (right), both 18, are the second and third Irish nationals to die while holidaying in Greece within a week, sparking an urgent investigation by local authorities
Two Irish teenagers from the same school have died in separate tragic incidents while on holiday on the Greek island of Ios (pictured, file photo), with local authorities saying one fell off a cliff and the other collapsed at a ferry port
He had been reported missing by a friend, who was with him until 1.30am on Saturday morning in the town of Hora, according to The Irish times.
The pair then became separated while making their way back to the hotel.
‘His body, found the next day and after a search alert was called by his friends and father who could not locate him for hours,’ Dimoglidou added.
No sooner had that tragedy struck, one of O’Donnell’s classmates, Max Wall, collapsed while waiting for a ferry at the island’s port the following day.
They were waiting to return to the Greek capital of Athens when he was found unconscious at around 2pm on Sunday.
Emergency services rushed him to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
‘He just collapsed and died,’ Dimoglidou said. ‘He too was taken to the local hospital and his death recorded.’
Both bodies have been transferred from to the port city of Piraeaus for twin autopsies to be performed to determine the exact cause of their deaths.
‘Blood samples and tissues will be examined to establish the causes of their deaths.’
Flowers outside St, Michael’s College in Dublin after the deaths of two recent graduates on the Greek island of Ios. Tributes have been paid to the two teenagers, Andrew O’Donnell and Max Wall, as ‘bright, sporting, academic’ young men. Picture date: Monday July 3, 2023
Speaking to MailOnline on Monday, a senior police spokesman said it was a ‘sad occurrence.’ He added an investigation has been launched ‘to probe the causes of the sudden deaths.’
O’Donnell and Wall were among a party of some 20 classmates who arrived in Greece last week to celebrate their high school graduation.
Tributes have poured in for the two teens as ‘bright, sporting, academic’ young men.
St Michael’s College released a statement on Sunday about the death of Andrew before later confirming Max had also died.
Ireland’s education minister Simon Harris said his thoughts were with students on holiday in Greece who were ‘now encountering such shock and pain and grief’.
On Monday, principal of St Michael’s College Tim Kelleher said that representatives of the school’s parent association had flown to the Greek island to support the families.
‘We’re absolutely devastated, the entire community is reeling with the news over the last 24 hours,’ he said.
‘Our deepest sympathies and condolences go to the bereaved families, some of the parents association reps have flown out to the island to give them some support in their time of need,’ he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.
He described Andrew as a ‘fantastic young man, great sportsman, fantastic footballer’ who was academically bright, and was forward to his holiday and to attending college.
‘A very, very bright future,’ he said.
He described Max as ‘very bright’, ‘passionate about rugby’ and had ‘the world at his feet’. ‘Full of optimism and hope for the future.
‘Unfortunately both families got the news yesterday that their future had been taken from them and we’re obviously devastated for them, their family and friends, and we’re here to help and support in any way we can in the next days and weeks.’
He said that the group of classmates who had been on holiday with them are ‘absolutely traumatised’ and are on their way home.
He said that the school is open, there is a book of condolences open and supports are available to those who need them.
Four bouquets of flowers have been placed at the Dublin school; the Irish tricolour and the school flag are being flown at half mast outside the front door.
The Irish tricolour and the school flag being flown at half mast outside St, Michael’s College
‘We are heartbroken. We are a tight-knit community and these are two fantastic young men with their whole lives ahead of them.
‘Bright, sporting, academic men, who had their whole lives ahead of them,’ Mr Kelleher continued.
‘There are hundreds and hundreds of families this morning plunged into deep, deep sadness because of what has occurred and again we are reeling with it.
‘It’s exactly the nightmare that every parent dreads when group holidays and big groups of children go away.
‘You just don’t want to get that call to say your child is missing.
‘But two of our families have had that call and we are devastated for them, and our hearts are broken and our sympathy goes to them all.’
The past president of St Michael’s Union Tom McCormack said it was the ‘darkest day’ in the history of the Dublin school.
‘It was a devastating day, we’ve been heartened by the huge volume of messages of support from government ministers, councillors, senators, other schools.
‘Our sister school, St Mary’s, eight years ago had the Berkeley tragedy and we are now experiencing our darkest day.’
The school said in a statement on Sunday that it was ‘a day of immense sadness for the school’, and said their thoughts were with the family and friends of the two boys.
The school encouraged students who want to know more about available supports to contact staff members.
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman confirmed it is aware of both cases and is providing consular assistance.
O’Donnell, the school said, was a ‘popular classmate and friend’ and was a member of its football team.
‘He was kind to those around him, honest in all of his endeavours, and a great brother to Rory (Transition Year). Andrew will be sorely missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him,’ it said in a statement on its website.
‘Our thoughts are with Andrew’s family and friends at this extremely difficult time.
Wall, it continued, ‘was a constant source of positivity, encouragement and fun for all of those around him. He was extremely popular with staff and students alike, and a fantastic supporter of our teams during the various cup campaigns.
‘Our thoughts are with Max’s family at this awful time and with his friends who have experienced such shocking loss over the last 24 hours.’
O’Donnell and Wall were among a party of some 20 classmates who arrived in Greece last week to celebrate their high school graduation on the island of Ios
‘Our school staff are available to speak with and assist any students who would like to connect over the coming days and weeks,’ the school added.
Under each update on its website, the school wrote and Irish message of condolence: ‘Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam’, meaning ‘may his holy soul be on the right side of God’.
Ireland’s education minister said the news was ‘devastating’. Simon Harris said his thoughts were with ‘all leaving cert students abroad in Greece who were enjoying holidays after exams and are now encountering such shock and pain and grief’.
The Foreign Affair office said it was aware of the cases and providing consular assistance.