Sunday 25 March 2018

Boy (6) tried to save friend who fell in river, inquest told

James Casey Butler
James Casey Butler
Edel Casey

Gareth Naughton

A six-year-old boy bravely tried to save his friend when he fell into a fast-flowing river, an inquest heard.

James Casey-Butler (6) died after suffering prolonged oxygen deprivation despite the attempts of bystanders to rescue him after he fell into the Owenacurra River near his home at Tir Cluain, Midleton, Co Cork on March 23 last year.

He was airlifted to Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin where he died the following day.

James was playing with his friends Leon Murray and Christopher Doyle when the incident happened. Dublin Coroner's Court heard that the boys gained access to the riverbank through a gap in a fence made by people wanting to fish.

In her deposition read into the record, his mother Edel Casey said she had been watching the boys from the Murray house nearby but when she went outside to call them in, she could not find them.

Two boys told her that they were down by the river. As she approached the gap in the fence Leon and Christopher were coming toward her.

"Leon told me James fell into the river. I was screaming," she said.

Ms Casey began frantically running along the riverbank searching for her son. Neighbour Damien Garde spotted James tangled in the branches of a tree 400-500 metres from where he fell in. He jumped into the river and brought him over to the riverbank, administrating CPR immediately.

Paramedics were unable to revive James at the scene.

He was transferred to Cork University Hospital and then ferried by helicopter to Our Lady's Hospital, Crumlin, but died the following day. Pathologist Dr Michael McDermott said that James died from the effect of hypoxia – oxygen deprivation – on multiple organs.

Christopher told Garda Sgt Anna Lane that James and Leon had been standing on a tree branch over the water playing a game where they were throwing stones in to see who could make the biggest splash when James slipped and fell into the river. "Leon said that he had tried to grab onto James's arm when he fell into the water but the branch that James had been holding onto broke and James was swept down the river," she said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

Irish Independent

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