Shock as 'loving and caring mother' drowns during family Easter trip
Tributes have been paid to a "loving and caring" mother of two who drowned during a family outing in the North.
The family were on a boating trip at Devenish Island, near Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, when the tragedy occurred in the early hours of yesterday.
The victim, named locally as Luna McKinney (35), was checking on ropes attached to the boat when she fell into the water.
Her husband Stephen, who was alerted by the sound of the splash, dived in to try to rescue her.
When he couldn't locate her in the dark, he contacted emergency services.
Locals in the couple's home village of Convoy, Co Donegal, last night paid tribute to Mrs McKinney, who was originally from China.
A neighbour in the Flax Fields estate, who asked not to be named, described her as a "loving mother and a caring" person.
"She was just the nicest woman you could meet. Stephen just came back there and he is absolutely exhausted, he doesn't want to speak to anybody.
"Luna had long flowing hair, like her daughter. She was a beautiful woman. We just can't make sense of it.
"You hear about tragedies like this all the time, but when it happens on your own door step, it's very hard to believe." It is understood that Mr and Mrs McKinney, along with their 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, have been living in the Convoy parish for at least four years.
Local Sinn Féin councillor Liam Doherty said the community was "shocked and stunned" at the tragic loss of life.
"The mood locally, people are just shocked and stunned by it. The people who knew them are only coming to terms with it, and how this tragedy happened.
"They were on their Easter break, with their kids, on a family outing when this tragedy struck them.
"I still can't believe it. When I heard it was Donegal, I didn't realise it was so close to home in the small parish of Convoy," Mr Doherty told the Irish Independent.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is investigating what is believed to have been an accident. After falling from the vessel, Mrs McKinney was located by rescue workers just metres from the back of the boat.
CPR was performed at the dockside and on route to the hospital where she died.
Her two children were asleep at the time of the tragedy.
PSNI Chief Inspector Clive Beattie said that Mr McKinney was still in a state of shock.
"He is being looked after by medical professionals and by his wider family circle," he told RTÉ Radio.
"They were up on holidays to enjoy the beautiful waterways of Fermanagh but unfortunately it turned into a very tragic event."
He said that during the 999 call, "her husband told us that his wife and his children aged 13 and 11 were up on holidays from Donegal for the weekend and they were moored for the night at a very popular tourist attraction in a hired cruiser when his wife went to check on the ropes securing the boat."
A multi-agency response was launched immediately and a major search operation got under way.
However, around 40 minutes after the 999 call, Mrs McKinney's body was recovered from the scene.
Chief Inspector Beattie expressed his heartfelt condolences to Mrs McKinney's family and thanked all the emergency services who attended the scene. There were "valiant efforts" to resuscitate the young mum before she was rushed to hospital.
"It's a very terrible accident indeed," he said as he appealed for all waterway users to wear a life jacket at all times.