Swim tragedy teenager dies as friends keep bedside vigil
THE young friends of a teenager who died following a swimming accident kept a vigil at his hospital bed as he fought for life.
Chris O'Sullivan (17), from Rathmore, Co Kerry, died after getting into difficulties while swimming at a popular bathing spot on the River Blackwater on Sunday. He had been enjoying the fine weather with friends and celebrating after two local GAA teams won matches.
His friends who had tried to save him travelled to Tralee General Hospital and remained there, despite several of them sitting Leaving Cert exams this week, but he died yesterday.
His heartbroken parents, Gerry and Sharon, and brother, Daniel, were being comforted by their extended family while his older brothers, Tyrone and Thomas, travelled home from England and Australia after being told the news.
Parish priest Fr Pat O'Donnell said: "His family were all with him at the hospital and Thomas and Tyrone were called. His friends didn't want to leave."
Chris was a minor footballer with Rathmore GAA club and had only recently returned from a serious knee injury.
On Sunday, he was celebrating his team's win over West Kerry in the Kerry County Championship and had attended the Knocknagree match in which they beat Millstreet in the Ducon Cup Final.
Chris, who had just completed fifth year at Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra in Rathmore, then joined friends at a barbecue at a house near the Lisheen Bridge bathing spot.
The alarm was raised after he dived into the pool in the River Blackwater but failed to surface.
Three ambulance crews and the Air Corps helped in the search for him, and he was transferred by air ambulance to Tralee General Hospital.
One local said: "He jumped in for a swim and they think he hit his head. He hit off another guy but they didn't think anything of it, but when he still hadn't come up they were worried.
"They were searching for him for a while before they found him further down the river."
Rathmore GAA chairman Eoin Casey said: "He'd been playing with the club since he was old enough to kick a ball. He was a very friendly fella and always had a smile on his face."
Donal Murphy, vice-chairman of the Rathmore club, said: "He was a lovely young lad and this is very hard for the family and for the whole community."