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Saturday 25 November 2017

'We pray David will soon be back in the safe arms of those who love him so much' - search continues for GAA player after swimming incident

David Gavin (26)
David Gavin (26)
Tragic swimming accident: David Gavin from Co Mayo

Alan O'Keeffe and Laura Larkin

A GAA club is to hold a mass for a young player who is presumed drowned after a tragic swimming accident in Canada.

Mr Gavin was last seen diving from a logging road bridge over the Beaver River, in British Colombia, on Friday afternoon.

In a post on Facebook his local club in Mayo , Breaffy GAA, said members are "heartbroken".

The club plans to hold a community mass in the clubhouse on Wednesday.

The statement reads:

"Breaffy GAA are heartbroken to report that our good friend David Gavin is reported missing in Canada following a swimming incident.

"We stand with David's family, girlfriend and his many worried friends and pray that David will be found soon and back in the safe arms of those who love him so much.

"You are all welcome to join us for a special Mass of support at Breaffy GAA Clubhouse on Wednesday 5th of July at 9.30pm"

According to Rick Chartraw, owner of the Kinbasket Lake Resort camp ground near Golden, British Columbia, Mr Gavin was among a group of young Gaelic football players from Ireland who were travelling by car between Vancouver and Calgary.

"They stopped at the resort and asked if they could go for a swim," Mr Chartraw told the Irish Independent.

He told them they were welcome to jump off the resort's dock into the lake - a reservoir on the Columbia River.

"But unfortunately they saw a bridge over the Beaver River nearby and the young man jumped from the bridge to the river below," he said of the 20-metre drop.

"He surfaced and said he was OK but then disappeared," Mr Chartraw said.

The river itself is deep and it is very fast moving, he said of the tributary of the Columbia River which is fed by a glacier.

"We don't know what happened," he said.

Mr Gavin, who is a full-back for  his club in Castlebar, was on transfer from the club to a Gaelic football club in Vancouver.

He had been playing for the Canadian club for only a few weeks.

Mr Gavin has been described as "a hugely popular young man who would be well known" in his local area.

Mr Gavin's devastated teammates have kept a vigil at the riverside since the tragedy unfolded about 3.30pm on Friday.

RCMP from Golden launched a search along with the local search and rescue team on Friday, in which two boats and a sniffer dog were deployed to search the Beaver River - also known as Beaver Creek - as well as Kinbasket Lake and the shoreline.

It is understood that Mr Gavin's parents - who both work for Mayo County Council - have arrived in Canada.

Meanwhile, local Mayo county councillor Michael Kilcoyne said the community was shocked and saddened by the tragedy.

"I'm very saddened to hear the news," he said.

"It's a terrible time for the family; this is every parent's nightmare."

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was aware of the accident involving an Irish citizen.

The Irish embassy in Ottawa is liaising with local authorities and providing assistance.

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