'He was only gone for a moment' - Distraught father as boy (4) drowns in fish pond
The distraught father of a four-year-old boy who drowned in a fish pond during a family Halloween celebration last night has told of his grief.
Jack Irvine (4) had been enjoying festivities with his parents and four brothers in Crumlin, Co Antrim on Tuesday night when the tragedy happened.
His parents Eddie and Karen launched a frantic search when they discovered their son was missing, but it is understood that he was unconscious by the time they found him in the water shortly before 9pm.
Paramedics rushed Jack to Antrim Area Hospital, but efforts to resuscitate him failed. As he struggled to come to terms with his loss, dad Eddie said: "He was only gone for a moment."
Last night, the family was being comforted by dozens of friends and relatives at their home on Cairn Terrace.
One online tribute said: "Jack was a loving happy little boy who had so much to live for.
"We hope and pray that Karen, Eddie and the boys will be comforted by their loved ones at this sad time to help them try get over this tragic ordeal. Little Jack loved school and his friends, every morning he was skipping down the road to go play with his wee friends in his pre-school of Crumlin Integrated where he will also be sadly missed by all."
Councillor Anne Marie Logue offered her condolences to the family. "I have a small fish pond in my own garden and you never for one minute think anything like this could happen," she said.
"It is just so heartbreaking to think about and I can't begin to understand what this family is going through, but I want to extend my sincere sympathy.
"I have spoken to them and offered them my support but naturally they are just totally consumed with grief right now."
Ms Logue said she is confident that the family will be supported by the local community in the difficult days ahead.
She added: "This also comes as a terrible shock to the whole community who, like this poor family, were celebrating Halloween with their children before they woke up to such terrible news.
"My thoughts and prayers are with the child's parents, his young brothers and the extended family, and I know the Crumlin community will rally to support them in any way they can."
Councillor Thomas Burns also offered his condolences to the family following the "nightmare" ordeal.
"It's every parent's worst nightmare and what they must be going through is just unimaginable.
"My heart just goes out to them."
Councillor Mervyn Rea described the incident as "absolutely tragic" and said the Irvine family will remain in his thoughts.
"My heart goes out to them," he said.
"Losing a wee dote is just terrible - it's bad enough at any age but particularly when it happens so young, to someone just starting out in life."
Police confirmed that a post-mortem examination has been carried out and Jack's death is not being treated as suspicious.
Mourners will gather to pay their respects to the little boy at 2.30pm today at St Joseph's Church, Glenavy for Mass of the Angels.