swimming tragedy | 

Enagh Lough drowning victims named as priest tells of families’ devastation

Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian, both 16, died after getting into difficulty in the water

Joseph Sebastian and Reuven Simon

The scene at Lough Enagh in Derry where two teenage boys drowned on Monday. Pic: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The scene at Lough Enagh in Derry on Tuesday morning. Pic: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Amy CochraneBelfast Telegraph

The two victims of a drowning tragedy in Enagh Lough in Derry have been named.

Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian, both 16, died after getting into difficulty in the water on Monday evening, as they were marking the final hours of their summer holidays.

A priest said today their families have been left devastated and traumatised.

PSNI Inspector Brogan said officers were called shortly after 6.25pm on Monday to reports 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.”

Mark Deeney, Western Area Commander for the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS), said it was a major operation.

He said three fire appliances from Crescent Link Fire Station including a specialist water rescue team, two fire appliances from Northland Fire Station, one fire appliance from Strabane Fire Station and a specialist rescue team from Central Fire Station attended the incident.

"On arrival we were informed that two teenage boys were missing in the water approximately five metres from the end of a jetty,” he said.

"Members of the water rescue team from Crescent Link immediately entered the water and, supported by other personnel, were able to recover one of the boys within 20 minutes. He was transferred to hospital by NIAS but sadly did not survive.

The scene at Lough Enagh in Derry where two teenage boys drowned on Monday. Pic: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Mr Deeney said a second boy was recovered just before midnight after an extensive search by Foyle Search and Rescue and a dive team deployed by the PSNI.

“Despite the tragic outcome I would like to commend the efforts of our crews at the scene who worked tirelessly in an attempt to rescue the boys,” he added.

"Working in partnership with our colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Foyle Search and Rescue, everything possible was done to give them the best chance of survival.

"We are continuing to support our crews today and indeed our colleagues in our Regional Control Centre with specialist debriefs following this challenging incident.”

Father Michael Canny said the families – who are part of the Syro-Malabar community - were well known in the Waterside area of Derry.

“The families are in the city over 20 years and these boys were born here and went to school here, two of the parents also work in the healthcare sector, so there will be great shock in the waterside area and as well throughout the city today,” he said.

“We have two priests from India who were both with the families until the early hours of this morning and they were very traumatised and devastated.

The scene at Lough Enagh in Derry on Tuesday morning. Pic: Jonathan Porter/PressEye

“It is an awful tragedy, there is tremendous sadness all round.”

SDLP MLA Mark Durkan said it was the first tragedy of its nature in 34 years at the lake.

“There’s a generation who remember that, and a new generation who don’t, who are maybe not aware of the dangers,” he said.

Alliance councillor for the area Rachael Ferguson passed her condolences to the family on Tuesday’s BBC Good Morning Ulster programme.

After speaking to families at the scene on Monday evening, she believes that when one boy got into difficulty, another boy went in to help him and was unfortunately pulled under.

“One other boy flagged down a car and local residents to help who rang the emergency services who were in attendance very quickly, but it is a tragic accident that happened within the water,” she said.

“There were a number of reports going around but it is believed that one of the boys in the water was a cousin of the third boy who flagged the car down to try and help.”

DUP MLA Gary Middleton described it as a devastating tragedy and said his thoughts and prayers were with the victims' families.

Sinn Féin MLA Ciara Ferguson said the city is in mourning.

She said: “My first thoughts are with the families and friends of the two teenage boys who died at Enagh Lough on Monday evening and all those involved in this incident.

“This is a tragedy. The people of Derry are in shock and in mourning today at this devastating loss of life.

“These young boys had a bright future ahead of them and were only days from going back to school. I cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak felt by their families today.

“The work and efforts of the emergency services who responded quickly to this incident and were present at the scene must be commended.”

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