'Exceptional' | 

Tragic teens killed in Galway pier accident ‘had their whole lives ahead of them’

John Keenan (16) and Wojciech Panek (17) died at the scene while Christopher Stokes (19) was taken to hospital in a critical condition but later died of his injuries.

Christopher Stokes and John Keenan

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Tributes have been pouring in for the three “exceptional” teenagers who drowned when their car slipped off a pier in Galway over the weekend.

John Keenan (16), also known as John Sammon, and Wojciech Panek (17) died at the scene at Menlo Pier on Saturday while Christopher Stokes (19) was taken to hospital in a critical condition but later died of his injuries.

Gardaí believe the car carrying the teens may have slipped off the edge of the pier at around 2.40am and tipped on its roof, trapping the youngsters in a shallow narrow channel that runs alongside the pier.

Christopher had been in intensive care for several hours before he died on Saturday afternoon.

Taking to Facebook, his heartbroken sister Annalise said her brother “was trying his best” to come home to his family.

In the devastating post, she wrote: “He was trying his best to come home to us,” followed by two broken heart emojis.

Annalise also shared Christopher’s final Instagram story, where he posed with a thumbs up just hours before the tragedy.

He had added music from the song American Remains by The Highwaymen with the now poignant lyrics: “We will not be forgotten; we won’t be left behind. Our memories live on in mortal minds.”

Meanwhile, tributes have been pouring in for the three tragic teens, with Castlebar Boxing Club – where Stokes and Keenan were both members – offering their condolences to their loved ones.

The club wrote online: “Rest in peace to both club members Christopher Stokes and John Keenan. Both exceptional young men and too young to go.”

And a friend of John Keenan’s wrote: “I am really sorry for your family’s loss. God be good to you. Hope you get the best bed in heaven.

“Wish the light of heaven to all the other boys that was there in the accident. You really don’t know what’s around the corner for anyone anymore.”

Another pal of Keenan’s and Stokes’ shared a photo of the pair and said: “Got a pain in my heart when looking at this... what’s the world coming too only two young boys with there (sic) whole life ahead of them. Rest in peace boys”.

Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche, who is leading the investigation into the teenagers’ deaths, said gardaí and emergency services fought to save the three young men.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland today, he said: “The call came in from a number of people who were on the pier.

“So, our cars were fortunate enough, it’s only a mile or two miles outside the city, so they were able to respond very quickly, and they got there within a short time.”

“But they found the car had entered the water and the three young men were still trapped inside.

“So, they immediately entered the water and went under the water as well, to try to get them out. Within minutes the other first responders, the ambulance crews and the fire brigade, arrived and they were able to pull the car to a place where they were able to actually recover the three young men. But unfortunately, all three have since passed away.”

Chief Superintendent Roche said gardaí are appealing for information about the car that they were travelling in.

He appealed to anyone who may have seen a blue Peugeot with the registration 08-D-128940 near the Menlo and Headford Road areas between 1.40am and 2.40am on Saturday to contact gardaí.

“It left the pier and it was gone for five or six minutes and came back again with the three young men in it,” he said.

“We do know that they were in shops earlier that night. That car but another car was also up and down to the shops and typical behaviour of young people.”

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