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Saturday 20 September 2014

Suicide fears after young couple plunge 100ft from bridge

Grainne Cunningham, Cormac McQuinn and Breda Heffernan

Published 16/03/2013 | 05:00

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Rescue teams search the River Foyle for the body of Kieran McKeon after Alexandra O’Brien’s remains were taken from the river.

TWO young friends are believed to have plunged over 100ft from a bridge to their deaths in an apparent double suicide.

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Last night rescue personnel were searching the River Foyle in Derry in a bid to locate the body of Kieran McKeon (18). The body of a woman, believed to be that of his friend, 21-year-old Alexandra O'Brien, was recovered from the river on Thursday.

They are both understood to be from Dublin and police described Ms O'Brien as a "vulnerable" individual.

Gardai confirmed they were investigating the disappearance of two people from Dublin but declined to comment further or say where the two young people were from in the city.

"We are liaising with our colleagues in the PSNI in relation to a body being recovered in their jurisdiction," a spokesman said.

Alexandra left a Dublin hospital on Wednesday afternoon and later travelled to Derry. It is unclear where she met Mr McKeon. The two friends were last seen at a hotel in the city in the early hours of Thursday morning.

A major search operation was launched hours later after a member of the public saw two people falling from the Foyle Bridge, a suicide blackspot, into the tidal river below.

Ms O'Brien's personal belongings were found on the bridge and her body was spotted in the water by the Sligo-based Coast Guard at 4.40pm.

Craig Smith, chairman of Foyle Search and Rescue said: "One of the saddest tasks we have to do is recover a body and unfortunately the nature of what we do means we recover a lot of bodies.

"The search is done at low tide because this gives us better visibility and we can get into areas we wouldn't be able to access at high tide."

The search for Mr McKeon continued late into the evening and a team from the Foyle Search and Rescue resumed their efforts at 4.30pm.

The PSNI said their search for Mr McKeon was not only concentrated on the river and appealed for members of the public who may have information on his whereabouts to contact them.

Nightmare

He is described as being 5ft 6in tall, of slim build and with long dark hair falling over his face. But fears were growing that he had also plunged to his death in the river.

Mayor of Derry Kevin Campbell said it was "an absolute tragedy" and offered his condolences to the families.

"This is the nightmare every family dreads, when a police officer knocks on the door with such bad news and our thoughts are with the bereaved – whoever they are our thoughts and prayers are with them," he said. "The city is in absolute shock and the thoughts and prayers of everyone in Derry are with the families of these two young Dublin people," he added.

If you are affected by any of the issues in the article please contact the Samaritans at 1850 60 90 90 or Console at 1800 201 890.

Irish Independent

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