Dubai, Apr 24: A man has drowned after falling out of a rubber dinghy off Palm Jumeirah when a drunken wedding prank went tragically wrong. Darren Clarke, 36, was found by coastguards after his body was washed up on rocks near the Palm’s luxury apartments. A close friend of the dead man’s family said the accident occurred after a heavy drinking session to celebrate a friend’s wedding.
Clarke and another man, identified as Pete Weir, took the dingy out in the dark to fool around on the water. The two friends, who were still dressed in their wedding suits, were immediately caught in a powerful current that forced them out to sea. Their efforts to reach the shore only succeeded in them losing one of the dinghy’s two oars, the family friend said.
Weir decided to try to swim back to shore, but Clarke chose to stay in the boat. After reaching safety, Weir alerted coastguards when he realised his friend was not following behind him. Both men were in Dubai on holiday for the wedding after travelling from Stockport in northern England.
Dubai Police confirmed the incident, saying they received a call at 7.35pm last Friday telling them a man was missing in the sea. They then dispatched their teams to find him. “The search operations continued for half-an-hour before the man was found floating near the rocks. We immediately sent the body to Rashid Hospital,” Captain Yahya Hussain Mohammed Yahya, Head of Sea Rescue at Dubai Police, told 7DAYS.
“While his friend managed to return to the shore, Clarke was unable to return safely for some reason. His friend became afraid and called the police who launched the search operation,” Yahya added.
Authorities believe Clarke either attempted to swim to shore but got into difficulty, or he passed out and was tipped out of the boat and drowned. A spokesman for Nakheel, the developer of Palm Jumeirah, said: “There was an incident on Friday night but it is now a police incident so we cannot comment.”
And one eyewitness to the attempted rescue operation told 7DAYS: “There were lots of search vessels off the Palm. I could see ambulances as well. There were people on the beach, it looked like a mixture of family and friends. They just stood there staring out to sea in shock.” Clarke leaves behind a girlfriend and their two young children.