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Saturday 7 December 2019

Search for teen missing after late night birthday swim off coast goes wrong

Stephen Maguire

An 18th birthday party turned to tragedy yesterday after a teenager went missing off the coast of Donegal.

A number of teenagers went swimming off Rathmullan pier on Lough Swilly in the early hours of yesterday morning. However, tragedy struck when one of the teenagers failed to surface.

The youth, named locally as Sean McNair, from Derry, has not been seen since just after midnight yesterday.

His distraught mother, Jackie, yesterday kept a vigil with friends and family at the spot where her only child was last seen. Sobbing, she said: "Please pray that they find my child."

Ms McNair was being comforted by local priest Fr Martin Collum.

"It's a terrible tragedy. Hopefully we can find his body and give everyone some kind of comfort," he said.

It is not believed that Sean was a good swimmer.

The emergency call about a missing person was first made at around 12.30am to Malin Head Coast Guard. They, in turn, alerted the search-and-rescue helicopter in Sligo as well as members of the Lough Swilly Lifeboat and the Mulroy Coast and Rescue.

The helicopter had to be stood down early yesterday morning because of poor weather conditions.

However, a thorough search around the pier involving the Sheephaven Sub Aqua Club and Garda divers took place yesterday afternoon.

Divers formed a line as they searched up to the base of the pier in and around where it is belived Sean was last seen.

A local woman who was one of the first on at the scene said she has never seen so much heartache.

"I can't describe the distress in those young people's faces. It was just awful," she said. "I saw them earlier in the day and they were playing around fishing for crabs like a bunch of children.

"It's just so sad that it all has to end like this," she said.

Sunday Independent

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