Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Benjamin Cooper, PA

Two teenage boys, both aged 16, have died in a “tragic drowning incident” after getting into difficulty in Lough Enagh, Co Derry.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) statement, attributed to an Inspector Brogan, said officers were called shortly after 6.25pm on Monday to reports of a number of people in difficulty in the water.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said a rapid response paramedic, five emergency crews, a hazardous area response team and an ambulance officer were dispatched to the scene.

NIAS also tasked the air ambulance to attend the incident.

PSNI’s Inspector Brogan said: “One male was taken from the water and transferred to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

“A second male was located and recovered from the water after extensive searches by Foyle Search and Rescue and police divers. He was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.

“One other male was taken to hospital for treatment to injuries, which are not believed to be life threatening.

“Three other males were also at the scene, and while they have been left shocked, are not physically injured.

“Enquiries are ongoing into this incident, but we believe, at this stage, that this was a tragic drowning incident. Our thoughts are with the families of those affected.”

Waterside priest Fr Michel Canny has said that the drowning of two local boys was a tragedy so enormous that there was a sense of shock, numbness and disbelief in the area.

The teens were members of families that had moved to the area 20 years ago from Kerala, India and who worshipped at the local church.

“It is a sad day for the community of the Waterside,” Fr Canny told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

The beautiful weather on the bank holiday Monday had prompted a group of teenagers to cycle to the lake area at Strathfoyle where they decided to swim, that would not have been uncommon, he said, but it had ended terribly.

A chaplain from the church had engaged with the families of the two boys last night and the entire community would support the friends and families. Both boys had attended local schools and their mothers were nurses at Altnagelvin Hospital, said Fr Canny, who added that the tragedy would remain with the friends of the two teenagers for the remainder of their lives. “They will be traumatised.

“As this story unfolds this will affect a lot of people.”

There will be tremendous shock and grief at what happened, he said. – Additional reporting from Vivienne Clarke 

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