Sunday 25 August 2019

Heroic boy (13) died after diving into pond to save two girls in danger of drowning

Teenager Ricky Osagie (left) who saved the lives of two girls in Blanchardstown
is remembered as a true hero by friends and family at St Patrick’s Church, Corduff
Teenager Ricky Osagie (left) who saved the lives of two girls in Blanchardstown is remembered as a true hero by friends and family at St Patrick’s Church, Corduff
Tragic: Ricky Osagie

Louise Roseingrave

A THIRTEEN year old boy died after diving to the aid of two girls in danger of drowning at a pond in west Dublin.

Ricky Osagie from Warrenstown Rise, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 was recovered from the lake at Waterville Park at 6.55pm on June 20 2014. Described by his parents as ‘an angel,‘  the teenager tragically died the following morning at Temple Street Children’s Hospital. 

“Ricky was kind and loving and generous. He was the laughter of the family with a happy smile. He was a talented footballer with many trophies. He was promising and loved by all,” his mother Lydia Osagie said outside Dublin Coroner’s Court after an in inquest into her son's death. 

“He was taken away from us without warning. We remember him every day. He was our best friend, our angel, our son and we are missing him,” she said.

The court heard that Ricky, though ‘not a swimmer’ according to his mother, dived out into deeper water to help two girls in difficulty.

One of the girls, Orla Opara said both girls were struggling after her friend Sarah Ishinyama slipped into deeper water.

“We were all having a water fight. I was away from the others near the drop where the pond gets deeper and Sarah came over. She slipped and screamed and we both went under. I tried to grab her but she was moving around underwater. I was struggling to breathe,” she said.

The artificial pond contains four ‘extremely slippery’ sloping polythene ‘shelves’ designed as a safety feature to prevent drowning if someone falls in at the edge. At the centre, the lake reaches a maximum depth of two meters.

Kelsey Mahoney said Opara and Sarah were holding hands and went out too far.

“Sarah shouted for help. We thought she was messing. Ricky swam over to where they were. I ran for the life ring but the holder was empty. I couldn’t see Ricky at that stage, he was gone under,” she said. She had seen others ‘messing with’ the life ring earlier that day.

In her deposition, Miss Ishinyama recalled struggling to breathe, swallowing water. She was pulled from the water unconscious.

“I could see people in the field playing but I couldn’t scream. Then I went back down, I couldn’t fight anymore,” she said.

Dublin Fire Brigade Sub Officer John O’Flaherty responded to a call at 6.20pm. He arrived to a scene of panic and chaos. “There were young people shouting, he’s in the water, he’s definitely in the water,” Mr O’Flaherty said. Fire fighters performed duck dives initially but visibility was poor. A floating line was placed on the surface to coordinate the search. “I came back up for breath and I felt something. I shouted to the others, ‘He’s here.’”

Fingal County Council Park Ranger Eugene Sweeney said he and a colleague cleared up to 50 young people from the pond and the park area at around 6pm. He said he was unaware of a slippery slope within the pond but said it was generally considered unsafe for swimming.

The council's Senior Executive Parks Superintendent Ruairi Ó’Dúlaing said the local authority took over the pond from the developer of the Waterville Estate in 2010. New signage including three deep water warning signs and seven ‘no swimming’ signs have been erected since Ricky’s tragic death. An additional life ring has been added to the existing three, he said.

The cause of death was hypoxic brain damage due to fresh water drowning.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure given the risks involved in the sloping nature of the lake.

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