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Drowned drink dare teen could not swim

THE brother of the young man who died after a NekNomination drinking challenge has revealed he was unable to swim.

Jonny Byrne (19) – whose body was taken from the River Barrow – was "terrified" of water.

His brother Patrick (26) desperately tried to save him and said he is still at a loss as to why the young hurler jumped into the water.

Patrick believes the internet craze sweeping the country is the "biggest form of bullying" as young people feel under enormous pressure to meet the dares.

Patrick watched helplessly as his brother ultimately jumped to his death on Saturday evening at Milford Bridge, Carlow – less than a kilometre from their home.

"We can't understand it. He couldn't swim, he was terrified of water – even back in primary school.

"He had gone on holidays with mam and dad and the only time he would get in the pool was at the very shallow end."

The Byrne family are now leading a campaign to stop NekNominations.

The viral challenge involves people posting a video of themselves downing a strong drink, often followed by a stunt.

Jonny's father Joe Byrne from Tomard in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow said they want to prevent the same heartache happening to other families.

"I hope it never comes to anyone else's door. I don't wish it on anybody. I know my son is gone, but if it saves lives it will be worth it," he said.

Mr Byrne described how the dare or 'nomination' appeared to have gotten out of control very swiftly last Saturday night.

"Patrick turned away from him for an instant and within that instant he had his tracksuit off and went flying by him, and the next thing he landed in the river," he said.

Patrick, who doesn't drink, jumped in after his brother, attempting to pull him towards the bank, but was unable to drag him to safety.



Another man who came upon the scene eventually pulled Patrick out of the water.

"We were lucky to get Patrick out, they had to pull him out, but Jonathan slipped away and there was nothing they could do for him," his father said.

Patrick's 'Stop NekNominations Now' message on Facebook has received tens of thousands of hits and has drawn responses from right around the globe.

"All I did was I told everyone of my friends and it has gone all around Ireland, the UK and global," he said.

"I got an email from a girl this morning and she found out her 15-year-old sister was due to do it last night," he said.

"She was able to stop her. It is getting out of hand when 15-year-old kids are doing it."

The Byrne family brought Jonny home to be waked at their house in Tomard, Leighlinbridge, which they will open to friends and neighbours today.

See Victoria White, Page 14