Tuesday 12 December 2017

Tributes paid to tragic teen sailor Laura (15) who drowned on holidays after finishing the Junior Cert

Laura Dempsey (15) drowned while on holiday in Stalida
Laura Dempsey (15) drowned while on holiday in Stalida

Alan O'Keeffe

A Wicklow community was united in grief yesterday following the drowning in Crete of local schoolgirl Laura Dempsey.

Flags flew at half-mast at Greystones Sailing Club yesterday in tribute to the teenager who was an active member of the junior sailing groups at the club.

The popular 15-year-old from Greystones was found unconscious in a hotel swimming pool on the Greek island on Sunday afternoon.

Frantic efforts were made to resuscitate her but she was later pronounced dead.

Laura had just completed the Junior Certificate examinations and was enjoying a holiday in the Stalida resort with her parents John Dempsey and Nicola Smith.

She was a pupil of Templecarrig Church of Ireland Secondary School in Greystones.

The patron of the school, Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson, offered his sympathy to Laura’s family in a statement issued yesterday.

Archbishop Jackson said: “It was with deep sadness that I heard of the death of Laura Dempsey at the weekend.

“To her family, we extend our sincere sympathies and pray that they know God’s strength in their heartache and devastating loss.

“Laura was a third year student in Temple Carrig School, Greystones, of which I am patron, and had just completed her Junior Certificate exams.

“We hold Laura’s friends and the whole school community in our thoughts and hearts as they struggle to come to terms with their loss.

“We also pray for the principal, teachers, chaplain and staff of the school as they support the students in their grief,” he said.

In Crete yesterday, a policeman told Independent.ie that the investigations into the tragedy were ongoing.

A report on the death of the Irish teenager was being compiled by a forensic doctor for the authorities.

The drowning victim had been taken to a local hospital following the tragedy and an autopsy had been scheduled.

Last night, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that officials based at the Irish embassy in Athens were involved in providing consular assistance to the grieving family.

Stalida, also known as Stalis, is a beach resort midway between Malia and Hersonissos.

It is a popular resort for Irish holidaymakers.

The club’s commodore, Daragh Cafferky, said on Monday that the family and friends and fellow club members were devastated by the terrible news of Laura’s death.

“She was a really enthusiastic sailor” and the loss of a girl as young as Laura was “particularly tragic,” he said.

The “tragic death of one of our young and valued juniors” has been greeted with “extraordinary sadness.”.

“A bright light has been extinguished and it is beyond words to express the grief we all feel for our friends Nicky and John,” he added.

Local members of Wicklow County Council have also expressed sadness at the tragedy and said the community were united in grief at the death of the popular schoolgirl.

On Monday, Jennifer Whitmore, cathaoirleach of Greystones Municipal District, and its leas-cathaoirleach Gerry Walsh said  Laura’s death was  a devastating loss.”

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