herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Dad’s frantic hunt to find tragic pond boy

A FATHER searched frantically for his five-year-old son after realising the youngster was missing when he went to get the boy ready for his final day of school before the holidays.

Tragically, Ahmed Bari died after falling into a drainage trench near his house, where it's understood he drowned in around seven inches of water.

The little boy had walked from his house at Belgree Lawns, in Tyrrelstown, west Dublin, to a nearby pond - a spot which he particularity enjoyed.

HORROR

Ahmed suffered from speaking difficulties and his carer used to take him to the pond to throw stones into the water, which is beside the drainage trench.

Ahmed's family have told the Herald about their horror when they discovered that he had gone missing.

Azhar Bari, an uncle of Ahmed's father Haider, said that they realised something was wrong when there was no noise in the kitchen while they were upstairs with his brother.

"He would usually be downstairs making a racket before breakfast. He had disappeared and the front door was open," he explained, adding: "The key was in the front door. We didn't think he would open the front door."

Ahmed's father jumped into his car and began a desperate search for his son around the sprawling estate.

"He rang the gardai, and about ten minutes later, they rang back.

"It was about 10am, they rang to say that his son was in Temple 
Street Children's Hospital, but they wouldn't say what happened," he added.

When Mr Bari arrived at the hospital he was given the heart-breaking news that his son was dead.

"A local lady jogger was in the park and saw him face down in the sewer.

"He was pronounced dead at the scene," Mr Bari explained.

A number of ambulances and fire tenders attended the scene.

Mr Bari said: "His carer comes every Saturday and brings him down to the lake.

"He liked the long grass and there is an 
open drain where he played on the stones."

Mr Bari hit out at the fact that such an open drain is located in a park frequented by children.

"How can this happen in this day and age?" he asked. "We are all 
grieving. He had learning difficulties and people in the estate used to 
care for him," he said.

The youngster had a two-year-old sister, Aisha, and a seven-year-old brother, Noman, but the parents were struggling to break the news to them yesterday.

"Noman doesn't even realise that his brother is gone," Mr Bari said.

He described Ahmed as a great kid. "He was a great young fella. He would just play all day," he said.

He also said that his speech had been coming along well.

Shock

The family originally lived in Tralee, Co Kerry, however they had moved to Dublin after failing to secure adequate educational facilities for their sons, who both have special needs.

His mother moved to Dublin first after giving up work, followed by his father.

"There wouldn't have been any need for them to be here (in Dublin) if 
they had the facilities in Tralee," he said.

Ahmed came from a large extended family of more than 50 and many of them were travelling from Kerry to be with his parents last night.

Mr Bari appealed for the family to be given privacy and said that they did not wish to speak to the media any further. "We just need to grieve," he said.

Locals in the estate were stunned about what had happened yesterday. Some left flowers at the drainage ditch where the youngster had fallen. "There needs to be some kind gate placed around to stop this kind of thing happening.

"There are a lot of children who play in this area. I feel so terrible for his family, I used to let my youngster come down here to swim but I won't any more," one woman said.

Gardai are treating the death as a tragic accident and are preparing a file on the death for a coroner's inquest.

The drowning is the second in west Dublin in the last fortnight after 13-year-old Ricky Osagie died while rescuing two of his friends on June 20.

lbyrne@herald.ie

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