Thursday 27 July 2017

Search continues as second body pulled from river

Brian McDonald

A SECOND body was yesterday recovered from a river in the west, but the search continues for a 19-year-old who has been missing for the past 12 days.

Searchers recovered the body of Teresa Loftus at Coolcronan, outside Foxford, Co Mayo, yesterday morning.

Ms Loftus, who was in her late 40s, had been missing for the past three weeks. A native of Cloontowart, Lisacul, Co Roscommon, she was last seen on March 4. Foul play is not suspected, and her death is being treated as a tragedy.

On Wednesday a body was taken from the river Moy in Ballina. It was initially thought to be that of missing local youth, David Higgins (19), but it tragically turned out to be that of a family friend who had been part of the search team.

Tommie Helley (59) from Barrett St in Ballina, was a close friend of David Higgins's father, John, and had been anxiously searching with a team of volunteers since the young man's disappearance in the early hours of March 13.

The young man was spotted in difficulty in the river at about 6.30am and gardai were unable to reach him.

Naval Service divers recovered Mr Helley's body from the water on Wednesday. He had not been reported missing, and the discovery of his body caused widespread shock.

It is thought that he may have returned to search on his own for his friend's son after the organised search had ended earlier this week, and possibly slipped in to the river.

Yesterday Ballina Mayor Frances McAndrew said that the local community was "shattered" at the tragedy.

Friend

Mr Helley was single and lived in the town since returning from the UK about 15 years ago. He had been an outstanding footballer in his younger days, lining out for Ballina Town soccer club and Ballina Stephenites Gaelic Football team.

Ballina businessman Barry McLoughlin, a former neighbour, described him as "a lovely man".

"Tommie was a close friend of the father of the young lad who is missing. We think he went back to have a look for the young lad on his own, and probably just slipped into the river," Mr McLoughlin said.

Irish Independent

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