herald

Monday 24 July 2017

'I'll never get over drowing death of my son', says mum

Jacqueline Bessong says she cannot bear to look at the river
Jacqueline Bessong says she cannot bear to look at the river

The mother of a teenage boy who drowned in the River Liffey has spoken for the first time of her heartbreak at her child's death.

Frank Mekang (13) tragically died when he got into difficulty after entering the river near Chapelizod last May - as he was coming back from a schoolboy football match with his club, Usher Celtic.

The teen had gone to the river after the match with some teammates.

However, he did not know how to swim, with mother Jacqueline Bessong still unsure how he got into difficulty.

She had expected him to return home straight after his football match.

Struggling

Speaking exclusively to the Herald, Ms Bessong, who has lived in Dublin for nine years since moving here from Cameroon, said she is struggling to cope since her son's death.

It is the third tragedy to hit Jacqueline and her family in recent years - having witnessed her father being killed and her husband dying in separate incidents.

Living on Usher's Quay, next to the River Liffey, Jacqueline - who is a refugee - wants to move away from the city centre, saying she cannot bear to look at the river anymore.

"Frank had never swam. He never, ever swam, he has never, ever been in the water," she said.

"He loved his football, he loved anything sport, so I let him do his sport.

"He loved PlayStation, he loved school, you never ever had to tell Frank to do his homework, you never had to tell him go to school.

"He would do his homework before he removed his uniform, he wanted to be first in anything that he did, he wanted to say 'I'm first'," she added.

The passing of the tragic teen has left an unbearable burden on Jaqueline and her other three children - Benedict (21), Freddy (16) and Eliz (2).

"I miss my 13-year-old boy, I don't know how I'm going to come out of this," she said. "I'm taking anti-depressants, I've been crying all of the time - I'm scared of people, I don't even want to make friends with people.

Widow

"I'm a mother-of-four, I'm a widow, and my husband was killed when Frank was two.

"My father was killed in my presence, and my husband was killed.

"My father was shot when we were travelling. In Africa, armed robbers stop the car if you have money, so my father was shot like that."

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