Coroner praises teen's efforts to save friend from drowning
AN inquest has heard of the desperate attempts made by a teenager trying to save his school friend from drowning.
At Clare Coroner's Court, Michael O'Donoghue of Cosgrove Park, Moyross, told of his efforts to save Joseph Killeen (17) from Kylevoher, Meelick, Co Clare, from drowning on July 12 last.
The tragedy occurred on a Friday evening on one of the hottest days of the year and was the sixth drowning to have occurred across the country that week.
Just months later the community was rocked again when a friend of Joseph's, Chloe Kinsella (15), also drowned. She was said to have been troubled by Joseph's death and her parents later appealed for young people to seek help if they were feeling low.
Mr O'Donoghue recounted how he was swimming with Mr Killeen at popular bathing and fishing spot, the Headrace Canal at Ardnacrusha.
Mr Killeen – who turned 17 last April – was a pupil at St Nessan's Community College in Limerick.
In his evidence, Mr O'Donoghue said they were "having the craic" jumping in off the bridge and swimming to the bank.
"I saw Joseph swim from the bank to the right across to the bank on the left," he said.
"He got into trouble around halfway. I saw this and I shouted 'are you okay?'"
"Joseph was struggling to keep afloat. I ran and got the life ring and threw it in right beside him so he could grab it.
"I saw him go under the water and he didn't come back up. I panicked and I jumped into the water and swam over to where Joseph went under water. I was shouting for him to come back up."
Mr O'Donoghue recalled that gardai and other personnel from the emergency services were at the scene within minutes.
Garda Brian Delee recalled that an extensive search for Joseph was undertaken and his body was recovered from the water at 6.15pm directly below where he was last seen alive.
In his deposition, Anthony Cusack of the Marine Search and Rescue said he conducted a dive where Mr Killeen was last seen and retrieved the body from the water.
The post-mortem confirmed that there was no trace of any alcohol in Joseph's system and that death was due to drowning.
Coroner Isobel O'Dea praised the efforts of Mr O'Donoghue in trying to save the life of Mr Killeen.
She said: "Well done Michael on your efforts to save your friend."
Ms O'Dea said that she remembered the day very well as it was an extremely warm day. She recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Mr Killeen is survived by his parents, Marie and Patrick, brother Cian and sisters Tara and Jenny.