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Brave dad Man (34) missing after river kayak accident 'used all his energy to keep son afloat'

Declan Reid is due to be a father for the second time

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Declan Reid.

Declan Reid.

Declan Reid.

A man who was last night still missing after he helped save his young son when their kayak capsized on the River Barrow was due to become a father again in the coming months, it has emerged.

It is understood the man, named locally as Declan Reid (34), had been kayaking with his son on the river Barrow at Ardreigh Lock near Athy in Co Kildare beside his old family home.

Mr Reid managed to keep his son (8) afloat and raise the alarm, and a young man who was passing-by jumped in and made it to the riverbank with the boy.

But when he went back to save the father he could not be seen.

Mr Reid’s father jumped into the river in a frantic effort to find his son but by then the current is believed to have swept him downstream.

The search continued until light faded on Sunday night, and resumed again at first light yesterday.

Garda and the civil defence were involved in river and riverbank searches, and also used drones to scan a distance of the river from above.

Garda sergeant Ralph Holmes said the search was continuing along the river and the section of the Grand Canal beside it.

Locals and family members looked on helplessly from the Lock as the search was carried out.

Mr Reid’s partner, whose family said is seven months pregnant, also waited patiently and quietly for word.

The search involved a large number of rescue personnel from the gardai and civil defence, and locals brought trays of sandwiches and cases of bottled water to the scene to keep the crews fed throughout their difficult task.

The house where the Reid family live was once the lock-keeper’s residence, and as such it is right beside the Lock where the Grand Canal meets the Barrow.

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The family run a successful plumbing business and are well known and respected locally. They were being comforted by close relatives and friends as the search went on.

Declan Reid had been living in Dublin in recent years and was visiting his relatives on the fine spring Sunday when the incident occured.

The Lock and the surrounding area was being used as a base for the search and rescue crews and their vehicles, and several boats were launched from the Lock during the continued search.

“Declan was a strong man and spent a lot of time in the gym. He used all his energy to save his son and keep him afloat,” said one man known to the family.

The young boy was being treated in Portlaoise Hospital following his ordeal but was expected to make a full recovery.

The young telecoms worker who jumped into the swollen and fast-flowing River Barrow to save the young boy from drowning after a tragic kayak capsize with his dad has said his lifeguard training stood to him and that life-saving swimming should be mandatory learning in schools.

Scott McQuaid (23), from Athy in Co Kildare, was walking along the banks of the Barrow with two friends at around 3pm on Sunday when he heard the cries for help from the water.

“We were at the lock and I heard the young boy crying for help. I barely had time to get my shoes off and went into the river, and as I got towards the middle of the river he either kicked towards me or his dad pushed him to me, I’m not sure,” he told the Irish Independent.

“The river was fast and high, and the current seemed to be pulling everything into the middle and down towards Carlow. The boy and his dad got separated from the kayak, and I got the boy and started making it towards the riverbank, but the current kept pulling us back towards the middle.”

“At one stage I was shouting for help too. It took me around ten minutes to get the boy to the bank. He was calling for his dad, and he had taken on water, but I kept his head up and kept talking to him.”

“He went quiet for a few minutes and he was kicking in the water to help me get to the bank. When we got there we were too tired to get out. We had to stand in the water at the edge for a few minutes to recover,” he added.

“There were a few people on the riverbank, and the people in the house had called the emergency services, but we couldn’t see the lad’s dad anywhere. His father had jumped in to try to get him but he had to swim back. The current was too much,” said Scott.

“When we got the lad out of the water I got the clothes off him and tried to get him up and moving, but he was too tired to stand so I sat down with him and tried to rub some heat into him until a lady came from a nearby farm with a blanket which we wrapped around him,” he added.

“I had done lifeguard training with Irish Water Safety back in 2016 or 2017, to be a pool lifeguard, and the training all came back to me.”

“I remembered to get in behind the boy so he wouldn’t drag me down, and how to keep his head up and kick for the bank.”

“The training definitely helped me, and I would encourage anyone to do a course like it. Life-saving swimming should be taught in schools. I did swimming in school but there needs to be a higher standard,” Scott explained.

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