AN IRISHMAN has died after his car slipped off a pier and fell into the sea on the island of Arranmore, just off the west coast of Co. Donegal.
26-year-old Lee Early was with another man - who managed to escape the car - after it plunged into the water around 5.10am on Monday morning.
It's believed they were trying to turn the car around on the pier, when it slipped over the side and into the sea.
Early, who was the driver of the vehicle, was a local RNLI volunteer and was well-known in the small island community.
Local Donegal TD Pat Gallagher described Early a "respected and hard-working young man".
He added that Early worked on one of the ferries that carries people to and from the island, and was a "popular" person.
"His parents are both from the island and they’re a respected family," Gallagher said.
"A dark cloud descended on west Donegal when the news of his tragic and untimely death broke."
A spokesman for the ferry company where Lee worked said they had lost their "skipper and friend".
"While working with us, the very talented Lee became the youngest commercial passenger ship skipper in the country, at the young age of 20," he said.
"Our deepest condolences to his sister, Rachael, our office manager, parents Jimmy and Noreen, brother Adam, sister Laura and all the extended family and friends. Lee will be sorely missed by us all at the Blue Ferry."
RNLI spokesman Owen Medland also paid tribute to Mr Early, calling him a "super young man".
"The deceased was one of our volunteers and was very close to us. He was a super young man who would be a loss to any community never mind a small community.
"As an organisation our thoughts are with the family, our volunteer crew who fought valiantly to save the young man’s life and the wider Arranmore community.
"We would like to assure the community that after what appears was a tragic accident, we are maintaining our lifeboat service on the island which is further testimony to the crew in Arranmore."
His body has been taken to Letterkenny University Hospital where a post mortem examination will be carried out on Tuesday.
A full Garda investigation into the the tragedy is now taking place.