THE family of talented young hurler Jonny Byrne has called for state intervention on the social media phenomenon that has cost their young son his life.
Joe Byrne, the father of the tragic teenager, made his heartfelt plea last night.
It came less than 24 hours after Jonny, a Carlow IT student from Tomard in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, took part in the challenge which involves downing alcohol after receiving an online challenge.
On Saturday night, Jonny finished his drink before leaping into the River Barrow near Milford Bridge, Co Carlow.
His brother Patrick, who had been with him but had not been drinking, dived in after him in a desperate bid to save him but almost lost his own life in the struggle and had to be hauled out by rope.
The craze has also been linked to the death of a young Dublin DJ, Ross Cummins (22), whose body was found by friends on Saturday morning. Gardai are awaiting the results of post-mortem to establish the circumstances of his death.
The Byrne family have now issued a stark plea to young people warning them off the internet craze.
Just hours after trying to save his younger brother's life, Patrick issued a heartfelt appeal on Facebook.
"My young 19-year-old brother, Jonny Byrne from Carlow, died tonight in the middle of his nomination.
"He thought he had to try and beat the competition after he necked his pint he jumped into the river.
"If people have any decency and respect they will refrain from any more this."
Patrick's message has been shared tens of thousands of times on Facebook.
His father Joe has joined in his son's special appeal, and spoke of the devastating consequences it has had on their family.
"I hope this message is heeded - because for us, life virtually is over.
"It happened so suddenly, he [Jonny] was doing this dare with a drink.
"Patrick turned away from him for an instant, and within that instant he had his tracksuit off and went flying by him, and they next thing he landed int he river.
"Patrick went in after him. He turned and he shoved Patrick under, with panic and everything else. Patrick said he couldn't hold him, and he had to let him go."
Mr Byrne believes his son had a "cocktail" of alcohol before jumping in the river. He said the family have no idea who initiated the dare.
"I'm appealing to everyone who is associated with this to please stop. It cost my son his life because of a dare and I don't want to see anybody else in the same situation, because it has destroyed our family."
He also called on the government to enact legislation that could help stop the trend.
"I would like the minister to do something... some sort of legislation."
By Louise Hogan
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