Teen (16) and boy (5) latest victims in water tragedies
Published 01/07/2014 | 02:30
THE death toll from drownings has continued to climb in the soaring summer temperatures as a teenager and a young boy tragically lost their lives.
Jonathan Mongan (16), also known as John Paul, got into difficulty while swimming with a large group of friends in Killykeen Forest Park in Co Cavan.
The family of the promising young athlete said he was on a supervised Youthreach event with a group of up to 12 other learners from the group at the time of the accident.
Jonathan's grand-uncle, Charlie Ward, who was his boxing coach for three years, described the 16-year-old from Cavan town as an "incredibly handsome young man" with a "kind heart".
The teenager's death came just hours after a five-year-old boy, Ahmed Bari, drowned in a drainage trench after leaving his home at Belgree Lawns in Tyrrelstown, west Dublin.
Ahmed, who suffered from speaking difficulties, was believed to have set out for a nearby pond – a spot he was often taken to by carers.
His family immediately launched a search when they discovered he was missing – however, he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Irish Water Safety chiefs have warned people to take extra care around water as the school term wraps up – after last summer's hot weather triggered a spate of drownings with 15 people losing their lives in just over three weeks.
The family of Jonathan, who would have turned 17 in October, told how two of his friends who were swimming in Killykeen Forest Park at the time came to his aid and made repeated attempts to locate him under the water at around 1.30pm.
Youthreach confirmed Jonathan, who is mourned by his parents Teresa and John Paul, and was one of four children, was taking part in a supervised outing at the time.
A statement from Cavan/Monaghan educational training board said it "deeply regrets" Jonathan's death and expressed its "deepest condolences" to the family and friends of the deceased.
"We are providing counselling to the learners and their families. The Department of Education & Skills has been informed of the tragic accident," it said.
Mr Ward said onlookers described how the promising young athlete drowned after he jumped from a high wall into a shallow lake and "disappeared" underwater for over 20 minutes.
"It was quite high up and after he went in he was missing for 20 minutes," he told the Irish Independent. "They then got the lifeboat in. There were 10 or 12 from YouthReach there at the time. When they found him he was gone."
Mr Ward said he "definitely had the potential" to become a professional athlete and represent Ireland at international competitions.
"He took part in boxing competitions in Canada in 2012. He was incredibly dedicated and trained for two hours a day, three nights a week.
"He was a lovely man who wouldn't harm anyone; he'll be greatly missed by everyone who knew him."
Meanwhile, in Dublin, the family of Ahmed told how his father Haider had searched frantically after realising he was not at home on the morning of his final day of school before the holidays.
Azhar Bari, an uncle of Ahmed's father Haider, said that they realised something was wrong when there was no noise in the kitchen and found the front door open.
Ahmed's father jumped into his car and began a desperate search for his son around the sprawling estate. He rang gardai and they phoned back a short time later to tell him the child was in Temple Street Children's Hospital.
When Mr Bari arrived at the hospital he was given the heart-breaking news that his son had died, after a jogger in the Belgree Lawns area spotted him.
Gardai are treating both deaths as tragic incidents and are preparing files for a coroner's inquest.