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Friday 19 January 2018

Mum of tragic boy (13) who died in the Liffey had also lost dad and husband

Frank Leonel Mekang (13) was a player with the Usher Celtic soccer club and attended school in Clondalkin
Frank Leonel Mekang (13) was a player with the Usher Celtic soccer club and attended school in Clondalkin
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The mother of the teenage boy who tragically drowned in the River Liffey has suffered two previous tragedies – she saw her father shot dead and her husband died in a car crash.

Jacqueline Bessong is now mourning the loss of her 13-year-old son, Frank Leonel Mekang, after he drowned on Saturday while taking advantage of the hot weather.

Speaking to the Herald, Frank’s aunt Celine said the latest tragedy is too much for Jacqueline to take.


“It is just too much for her. She has already seen her father shot in front of her in 1999 and he died in her arms. Three years later she lost her husband in a car accident,” she said.

“Jacqueline’s father Alexander Bessong was killed by stray bullets during a robbery in Nigeria.

“They had travelled there from Cameroon to buy some things, and then Jacqueline had to travel back with his coffin,” said Celine.

“Jacqueline’s husband Mekang Sakele died in a crash in Africa. She has lost her father, her husband, and now her son.

“We have postponed arranging Frank’s funeral for the moment,” she added.

Frank attended school in Clondalkin and was a popular player with the Usher Celtic soccer club.

On Saturday, he got into difficulty after entering the water between Islandbridge and Chapelizod shortly after 2pm.

He had just played a football match with his club and had gone into the water with his team-mates as the sun shone on one of the warmest days of summer so far.

The Garda sub aqua team attended the scene and his body was removed from the water at around 4pm.

On Saturday evening there were harrowing scenes when some of Frank’s family and relatives visited the site where he drowned. Members of his football club laid floral tributes at the site on Sunday afternoon and local priest Fr Richie Goode offered prayers.

It is the second recent tragedy to hit the inner city football club.

Lorcan O’Reilly (21), who died from stab wounds after he intervened in a fight on Halloween night in the Oliver Bonds flat complex, was also a member.


Meanwhile, friends of Frank’s have taken to his Facebook page to post messages of loss and regret at his death.

Irish Water Safety has urged people to take extreme care when swimming with children this summer.

Roger Sweeney, deputy CEO of Irish Water Safety, said Frank’s tragic death on Saturday marked the 32nd death of a child under the age of 14 in the past 10 years.

“Soon we’ll have half a million primary school children on holidays.

“We created a primary school syllabus on water safety, but unfortunately it’s not mandatory, so we rely on teachers to take it up,” he said.

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