Even by her own account, Sinead McNamara had it all. “Living & working on a boat seeing all that the world has to offer yep I think I have it pretty good,” the Instagram model posted to her 15,000 followers on Aug. 7, alongside the image of the idyllic Greek island Symi.
“Today’s a day for being grateful anddd it’s less than a month till I get to see my family & friends in Aus. Excitement overload!!” Tragically, it was a reunion the 20-year-old from Port Macquarie, NSW, would never make.
Following a night of partying in the clubs and bars of Argostoli on the stunning island of Kefalonia, McNamara – working as a luxury yacht stewardess for the summer – returned to the floating palace she temporarily called home: the six-storey, $200 million Mayan Queen IV, owned by Mexican mining tycoon Alberto Baillères, 87.
A matter of hours later she was found hanging from an upper deck – reportedly tangled in a spider’s web of ship’s buoys. Unconscious but still alive, McNamara received CPR from the ship’s doctor and treatment in a private clinic in Argostoli, before being airlifted by helicopter to Athens, 274km away.
It was during this emergency journey that she was pronounced dead. In a cruel twist, her mother, Kylie, and sister, Lauren Carr, were mid-air on a flight to Greece when they found out.
The trio had been due to start a family holiday together the following day. “I have unfortunately received the worst news of my life, [Sinead] has passed away,” her brother, Jake, wrote shortly afterwards on social media. According to reports, the investigation into McNamara’s death has initially concluded that she died of asphyxiation.
Greek coroner Elias Bogiokas, who performed an autopsy on McNamara, also told reporters that she believed no crime had been committed because the 20-year-old took her own life. A conclusive decision will not be reaches, however, until DNA and toxicology tests are completed - a process that could take months.
In the meantime, McNamara’s family are left to mull over the biggest question of all: why? According to the Greek authorities she left no suicide note. She was also spotted happily eating, dancing and drinking with friends just 24 hours before she died.
“They were dancing and had fun all together,” the owner of Baroque bar told News Corp, before adding that McNamara and her friends “all looked in a good mood.” The family also stated through their Greek lawyer, Charalampos Triantafyllopoulos, that they were in regular contact with McNamara throughout her four-month voyage – which began in Rhodes in June – and that as far as they knew she was “not having any problems.”
So just how did the fun-loving, free-spirited girl from NSW’s mid-north coast die? A potential answer could come from an emotional call that McNamara made to her family shortly before her death.
“The deceased had telephoned her mother and brother shortly before the unfortunate incident,” Triantafyllopoulos said in a statement. “She was crying and referred to an incident that took place on the yacht with another crew member.” Intriguingly, some of the remaining members of the 20-strong crew also revealed in police interviews that McNamara had been struggling with a relationship breakdown in the days before her death.
She was seen talking to a security guard on the yacht about 15 minutes before she was found hanging. “The parents believe it crucial to thoroughly investigate both the events and incidents that preceded the death of their 20-year-old daughter,” added Triantafyllopoulos. “In addition, they are looking for the reasons for the long delay between the time of the unfortunate incident and Sinead’s transfer to an Athens hospital.
She had been unconscious for several hours in a comatose condition and every minute was critical to her life.” McNamara’s funeral is scheduled to take place at Innes Park Memorial Park in Port Macquarie on Saturday, Sept. 15, followed by a reception at the Bonnie Hills Surf Lifesaving Club. An invitation circulated by her family on Facebook bears the touching comments, “Celebrate the life – cherish the memories” and “Cherish this moment, cherish this breath.”
It is testament to the intrepid spirit of the beautiful, fun-loving girl who packed her bikini and went in search of adventure in Bali – and turned it into a year-and-a-half sailing trip across the world. “You were the most free-spirited and happy person I have ever met,” close friend Samuel McIntrye posted in an Instagram tribute, adding, “You meant the absolute world to me.”
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