Monday 19 August 2019

Teen drowned in stream a few inches deep while fleeing from gardai investigating assault

Gardai examine the scene of the death of Jamie Ducey (inset)
Gardai examine the scene of the death of Jamie Ducey (inset)

Ralph Riegel

A TEEN drowned in just a few inches of water after falling into a drainage ditch while fleeing from Gardai investigating an assault on a senior officer.

Waterford Coroner's Court recorded a verdict of death by misadventure for Jamie Ducey (18) who died on May 16 2014 in Sallybrook, Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

The young man did not assault Supt Michael Leacy that evening but was in the company of a teen that did.

Two teens had been physically restrained by Supt Leacy but a third youth grabbed him from behind, allowing the others to break free and flee.

Both ran away from the scene - and Jamie Ducey sprinted through a nearby housing estate before climbing a fence and attempting to run across a field after being challenged by gardai responding to the earlier incident.

However, he was unaware there was a three metre deep drainage ditch complete with a concrete pipe running across the field.

The teen apparently fell into the ditch, stunned himself and drowned in the stream just a few inches deep.

When discovered by gardai just minutes after he fled them, the teen had his head wedged underneath the concrete pipe and under the surface of the water.

Only his backside was visible above the water.

Earlier, Supt Leacy had a bottle broken over the back of his head after he went out to confront a gang of youths, including the deceased, who had been shouting abuse and throwing empty beer bottles at the front door of homes in the Seapark Estate at 11.30pm.

The garda later required seven staples to a head gash.

Jamie, who sat his Leaving Cert the previous year, had spent that day drinking and smoking 'Pollen', a 'bad' form of cannabis with a group of friends.

As the group walked home through the housing estate, they became rowdy and started throwing bottles at houses and shouting "F*** the law."

Sean Kirby, a friend of Jamie's, said they were intoxicated.

The teen said Jamie was "smoking heavy weed and got very paranoid."

The witness was uninvolved in the confrontation with Supt Leacy.

He said he heard "a pop" and turned to see two teens, including Jamie, being held by the senior garda who had come out of his home to

investigate what was happening.

"Jamie was saying: 'It wasn't me. I did not hit you.' Then they both ran away."

Another teen, Dylan McGovern, was some distance away and also uninvolved when he too realised there had been an incident.

"I heard Jamie say: 'My name is Jamie Ducey and I am sorry.' I pulled the man's hand away from Jamie and he ran."

He told the inquest the last time he saw Jamie he was climbing over a fence by the back garden of a nearby property towards waste ground.

Garda Aidan McCarthy and Garda Mark O'Donovan responded to the original alert for help by Supt Leacy.

They were searching for two teens who had ran away from them when they spotted something suspicious by the waste ground.

"The terrain there is difficult and dangerous," Garda McCarthy explained.

"I stopped Garda O'Donovan from climbing the fence as I did not think it was safe there in the darkness."

Minutes later, as the officers were shining torches across the field for the teens they suspected were hiding in the undergrowth, they

spotted something suspicious.

"I saw what I thought was a plastic bag in the stream. I then realised it was a pair of buttocks," he added.

Garda O'Donovan dragged the teen free of the water, realised it was Jamie Ducey and immediately commenced cardiac pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Paramedics and a local doctor raced to the scene but the youth was pronounced dead a short time later.

Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, conducted a post mortem examination and confirmed that the teen died from drowning.

He had no other significant injuries.

Toxicology tests confirmed he was three times over the driving limit with a blood alcohol concentration of 162mg.

Coroner Eoin Maughan confirmed drowning as a cause of death and recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.

"This was a terrible tragedy - it was a dreadful event," he said.

Jamie's mother, Lisa Jones, paid tribute to her son: "Jamie was a big softie. He had a heart of gold. Jamie did not deserve this at all."

Jamie's father, Michael Ducey, appealed to teens to think about the safety of their behaviour.

"It was unreal having to identify my first born child in the morgue. The vision will never leave me. I'd just tell young fellas that it is

a bad idea (to drink and smoke cannabis). The problem is there is not much for youngsters to do today that is why they end up doing the

things they do."

"I would just urge them all to look after themselves because these tragedies can happen out of nothing."

"My son is gone and there is nothing can change that now."

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