Irishman dies after suffering stroke while swimming in Greece

Jonathan Tobin (42) from Youghal was an inpatient at Heraklion University Hospital since the incident occurred on Crete in July
Irishman dies after suffering stroke while swimming in Greece

Olivia Kelleher

A Cork man has died after suffering a stroke while sea swimming in Greece.

Jonathan Tobin (42) from Youghal was an inpatient at Heraklion University Hospital in Crete since the incident occurred on July 29th. He had been living in Crete for 12 months prior to the tragedy.

A GoFundMe page was set up to bring Jonathan home. Labour TD Sean Sherlock then raised the issue in the Dáil. This led to Mr Tobin being flown home by air ambulance last week courtesy of the Government's Treatment Abroad Scheme.

Mr Tobin died peacefully at Cork University Hospital on Tuesday evening. He is survived by his parents, Margaret (Mag) and Shane, and his two brothers, Ryan and Aaron. Funeral arrangements are being finalised.

On October 26th his mother posted on social media that they were delighted to have secured an air ambulance for him to fly home.

"Whatever happens our Jonathan is coming home where he belongs. We could not have done it without each and every single person who helped in any way."

In a post on Facebook on Wednesday, a family friend said they had received "a lot of comfort and consolation that family and friends got to spend a little bit of time with [Jonathan] and that he passed away here in Ireland surrounded by loved ones."

"It's been a long road since July but he is at his final resting place, no more suffering. His heart was strong till the very end and that just reflected on the person he was. To all those who helped along the way – huge thank you. Arrangements will follow."

Mag Tobin gave an interview to local radio station Red FM in early October in which she said she received a phone call on July 30th informing her that Jonathan had been found floating face down in water.

"Seemingly he was there for about 12 minutes and there was a child [saw him] and told his dad and they dragged him out and gave him CPR on the beach for 20 minutes until the ambulance came.

"They brought him to the local hospital but it did not have the facilities for him, so they drove him two and a half hours to the University Hospital in Heraklion.

"Nobody saw him going in to the water. The beach was packed. They thought he was snorkelling actually.

"He was on life support for six weeks. They did brain scans and MRIs and at the moment there is no brain activity. He is out of ICU. He is in a ward.

"We went over for 12 days when it happened and we went over again getting back yesterday. We have to get him home."

Mrs Tobin says Jonathan was able to open and blink in one eye and could move his mouth a little. She had talked to him for hours and hours "with no recognition."

She said Jonathan had lived in England for four or five years prior to his move to Greece. He stayed at home in Cork during the pandemic.

"He decided to go to Crete and live over there. He was a plasterer. He was a great snooker player. He won the Munster championships a few years ago. He was great. Very friendly. Now looking at him it is heartbreaking.

"He keeps getting infections. He has to get an air ambulance home. [On our last trip] we went down and packed up his apartment. It was a hard thing knowing he would never go back there.

"[Before the accident] he was due to come home on September 7th. He had his ticket bought.

Mag said doctors believe that Jonathan got a stroke in the water.

"His mouth is a little lop sided so we think it was stroke."

Mag said she knew that there was no chance of rehabilitation but she wanted her son to die in Ireland surrounded by his loving family.

"He is skin and bone. They are feeding him liquid food through his nose. We have a TD working for us and we are hoping to get him in to CUH. We have discussed [turning off his machine] but they said they can't because his heart is still beating. There is no [chance of improvement].

"You wouldn't know the ease it would be for us to get him home. We don't think he will have much time left but for the time he has left [we want him home].

"We just want him home here. We don't want him to die over there on his own. "

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