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Wednesday 21 March 2018

Report ordered into circumstances of seven-year-old's drowning

James Casey-Butler with his mum Edel Casey
James Casey-Butler with his mum Edel Casey
The river bank where seven-year old James Casey-Butler slipped and fell
Roy Daly, who jumped in to the water to help rescue James

Ed Carty and Sarah StacK

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly has asked for a report on the circumstances around the death of a seven-year-old boy a day after falling into a flooded river.

An advanced paramedic, a locally based first responder, was at the Owenacurra river in Midleton, Co Cork seven minutes after an emergency call was made that James Butler Casey had been swept away.


The Health Service Executive (HSE) said an ambulance, which had to travel from Cork city, was on site in 19 minutes.


The authority also rejected any suggestion of a deficit in ambulance numbers in the region after reorganisation last year.


Dr Reilly said a report on the emergency will be compiled by Cork University Hospital.


"While I await a full report, the first thing I want to do is empathise with the family on their terrible tragic loss. The last thing any parent wants to do is to be at their child's funeral," he said.


James, from Forrest Hill in Midleton, fell into the river and was swept about 300 yards downstream.


The boy had been playing with friends on a green at the back of the Tir Cluain housing estate in the town when the accident happened at about 6pm on Saturday.


He went through a gap between a wire fence and a wooden fence to the river bank, slipped and fell in.


One of the friends ran to local houses and raised the alarm at about 6.40pm.


The Owenacurra, in flood following torrential rain, was about 5ft deep and one local man waded in fast flowing water up to his shoulders to get to James from where he had been brought to a stop.


The child had been in the water for several minutes. He died in Crumlin children's hospital in Dublin last night after being transferred from Cork.


Cork County Council said the housing estate was privately owned and unfinished and that the authority did not put up the fence. Neither does it have any control or ownership of the riverbank.


Questions have also been raised over why a helicopter was not used to transfer James from Midleton to Cork.


Bishop of Cloyne William Crean said he was deeply saddened by the tragedy.


"My heart goes out to all concerned: to the parents of James, to his extended family, relatives, friends and to the community of Midleton parish," he said.


"On behalf of the people and priests of the Diocese of Cloyne, I offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences and I ask for prayers for all those who are grieving."


The HSE also expressed its deepest sympathies to the family and has offered support and counselling to those affected.

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