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Two victims of Galway pier tragedy to be buried in same graveyard this week

Three teenagers died after car they were in slipped into waterway on Saturday.

John Keenan and Christopher Stokes

Eavan Murray, Paul Hyland, and Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Two of the three victims of the Galway pier drowning tragedy will be laid to rest in the same cemetery this week.

Young boxers and friends John Keenan (16) and Christopher Stokes (19) both died on Saturday after their car slipped off a pier and overturned.

Keenan, also known as John Sammon, died at the scene at Menlo Pier alongside 17-year-old Wojciech Panek while Christopher Stokes (19) was rushed to hospital in a critical condition but later passed away.

A death notice for John Keenan has been posted on, detailing that he will repose at his home on Headford Road on Tuesday, February 14.

His funeral mass takes place in the Church of the Resurrection, Ballinfoyle, on Wednesday morning, February 15, at 11am, followed by a burial in Rahoon Cemetery.

"The death has occurred of John Keenan Sammon, suddenly and unexpectedly after a tragic accident,” it reads.

Christopher Stokes and John Keenan

"Deeply mourned and sadly missed by his heartbroken family, neighbours and friends.

“Reposing at his home on Tuesday, February 14. Requiem Mass will be celebrated for John on Wednesday, February 15, at 11am, in the Church of the Resurrection, Ballinfoyle, after which he will be laid to rest in Rahoon Cemetery.”

His friend Christopher Stokes’ funeral will take place the following day in the same church at noon.

He will also be buried in Rahoon Cemetery.

Christopher’s death notice says that he died “suddenly and unexpectedly after a tragic accident”.

He is survived by his parents, Anthony and Kate, brothers Michael, Tommy, Tony, and Martin, sisters Annalise, Nicole, Geraldine, Katlyn, and Lucy, nephew Mark, sister-in-law Madelena, grandparents, extended family and many friends.

“Reposing in Conneely’s Funeral Home, Flood Street, Galway on Wednesday, 15th February, from 5pm. Removal at 7pm to the Church of the Resurrection, Ballinfoyle. Requiem Mass at 12 noon on Thursday, 16th February. Funeral afterwards to Rahoon Cemetery.”

Christopher Stokes

Funeral arrangements for Wojciech Panek have yet to be announced.

Gardaí investigating the tragic deaths of the three teenagers who drowned when their car slipped off a pier are set to speak to several witnesses.

It is understood that a second car travelled in convoy with the youths to the Menlo pier area in the early hours of Saturday.

A source said locals were alerted to the unfolding tragedy by the screams of teenage girls who were in the second car. It was the passengers of the second car who apparently alerted emergency services.

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

Scoil San Phroinsias, the former school of the two of the boys, released a short statement on Monday afternoon.

“The entire school community is shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of our two past pupils. Both John and Christopher were upstanding students who were very popular with their peers. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time.”

Local councillor Frank Fahy said the Menlo area and beyond have been left shocked by the tragedy.

“This is not something I ever envisaged happening here,” he said. “We have never had anything like this happen here in Menlo and I have lived here all my life.

11.2.23. The scene at Menlo Pier where three men lost their lives after the car they were in entered the water late on Friday night Saturday morning. Photo Andy Newman.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened. It’s a horrific tragedy, one you wouldn’t wish on anyone.

“They drowned in two or three feet of water which makes it all the more harrowing. I want to offer my deepest condolences to their families.

“I lost my own brother to a drowning accident in 1983 and it never leaves you.”

John Keenan and Christopher Stokes lived in the Headford Road area of Galway city and both boys were remembered as “great, decent young lads”.

A female neighbour of John Keenan’s recalled his kindness to younger children.

“He was just a lovely lad and everyone liked him. He was always smiling and very friendly,” she said.

“He was very kind to younger kids and I always thought that was a great trait in him.

“Everyone is absolutely horrified by this. It’s just so shocking and my heart goes out to his family.

“They reared him well because he was a good lad.”

Chief Superintendent Gerry Roche, who is heading the investigation, said gardaí battled to save the three teenagers.

Speaking on Monday morning, 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,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

"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 the three young victims were travelling in.

He appealed for anyone who saw a blue Peugeot, registration 08-D-128940, in or around the Menlo and Headford Road areas between 1.40am and 2.40am 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… 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,” he added.

Boxing clubs across Connacht have paid tribute to the teenagers.

Both John and Christy were due to attend the Connacht Championship in Castlerea in Co Roscommon yesterday.

Locals laid flowers, lit candles and placed a picture next to Ballinfoyle church in Galway city where both boys worshipped with their families.

Mike Mongan, head coach at the Olympic Boxing Club, said: “The club is a sanctuary for these young boys. It keeps them on the straight and narrow and off the streets.

“We’re devastated this weekend but we have to look after the 12- and 13-year-olds and protect them.

“These boys and girls depend on us and we will be watching them even more now. We’re in such a cloud of grief.”

Galway Boxing county secretary Sean Clancy told RTÉ News: “The Olympic boxing club and management have been incredible this weekend.

“To be able to prepare their boxers and get them ready for championships and get them into the ring and kind of do it in a respectful way is a credit to everyone involved in the club.

“I know how good these coaches are in the Olympic to their boxers. How they hold themselves when there’s so much pain.

“The deaths of these young men is tragic. But somehow they keep going for the sake of all these young boxers.”

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