In a distressing turn of events, Irish filmmaker and cinematographer Ross McDonnell is reported missing amid a grim discovery at Breezy Point Beach in New York. Authorities were alerted on Friday afternoon when a dismembered body, missing its head and arms but with legs attached, was found on the beach, as confirmed by an NYPD spokesperson to The Times.
The identity of the deceased is yet to be ascertained, pending DNA test results, according to the New York Post. The circumstances surrounding McDonnell's disappearance are particularly troubling. He was reportedly last seen going for a swim a few weeks ago at a beach neighboring the site where the body was discovered.
Since then, there has been no sighting of McDonnell. In light of these developments, the Medical Examiner's office is tasked with determining the cause of death, though the identity of the deceased will not be disclosed until the next of kin are notified.
Nonetheless, a report from WNBC, citing law enforcement sources, suggests that the body might be McDonnell's. Initial investigations hint at no foul play or suicide; instead, it is believed that McDonnell might have been swept away by a current and subsequently drowned.
The physical damage to the body is suspected to have resulted from natural ocean hazards.
McDonnell's Mysterious Disappearance
Ross McDonnell, aged 44, was last observed on November 4, leaving his Brooklyn apartment on his bicycle.
Following his disappearance, his bike was found at Fort Tilden Beach in Queens, according to a missing person poster circulated by Wild Atlantic Pictures, a Dublin-based production company. Efforts to contact representatives of the production company for comments have been unfruitful so far.
Gene Gallerano, a close friend of McDonnell's, expressed his distress to the Irish Times, stating that McDonnell was believed to have gone into the ocean, and the alarm was raised the following day. McDonnell's contributions to the film industry are notable.
He co-directed "Colony" (2009), a documentary about the mass disappearance of bee colonies in the U.S., which garnered critical acclaim at film festivals including TIFF and IDFA. His cinematographic excellence was recognized with Emmy awards for his work on the Showtime series "The Trade" and the COVID-19 documentary "The First Wave." He is also nominated for the 2024 Cinema Eye Honors for his cinematography in the National Geographic series "Edge of the Unknown," hosted by Jimmy Chin and available on Disney+.
Besides his film work, McDonnell is acclaimed for his photography and photojournalism, with his works featured in prestigious publications like the New York Times, the New Yorker, and Fader. In 2021, he showcased a decade-spanning photo series documenting the lives of Irish youth in Dublin's Ballymun suburb, a region undergoing one of Europe's largest urban renewal projects.
McDonnell, originally from Dublin, had been based in New York and frequently traveled for his professional commitments. His disappearance and the subsequent findings at Breezy Point Beach have cast a shadow over the creative community, leaving friends, colleagues, and admirers anxiously awaiting further information.