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Monday 5 December 2016

'Our Ricky died a hero', says father of teen who drowned trying to save girls from lake

Ricky Osagie's parents Lydia and Kelly
Ricky Osagie's parents Lydia and Kelly

The father of a 13-year-old boy who died trying to save two girls from drowning in a Dublin lake has said his son is a hero.

Ricky Osagie drowned when he went to help the girls, who had got into difficulties while swimming in the artificial lake at Waterville Park, Blanchardstown, on June 20 last year. The girls survived.

After an inquest yesterday, Ricky's father, Kelly Osagie (43), of Warrenstown Rise, spoke of the terrible moments after he and his wife, Lydia, were told of the tragedy.

They arrived at the lake as firefighters searched for Ricky.

Praying

"I ended up lying on the ground with my wife, crying and praying, and I was saying, 'Please God, give us back our only son'," he said.

Ricky was pronounced dead in hospital the next day.

"My son died a real hero," Mr Osagie said.

Ricky's mother, Lydia, speaking outside Dublin Coroner's Court, said: "Ricky was kind and loving and generous. He was the laughter of the family with a happy smile. He was a talented footballer with many trophies. He was promising and loved by all.

"He was taken away from us without warning. We remember him every day. He was our best friend, our angel, our son and we are missing him."

The court heard that Ricky, though "not a swimmer", acc- ording to his mother, dived out into deeper water to help the two girls in difficulty.

One of the girls, Orla Opara, said she and her friend Sarah Ishinyama were struggling after slipping into deeper water.

"We were all having a water fight. I was away from the others near the drop where the pond gets deeper and Sarah came over," she said.

"She slipped and screamed and we both went under. I tried to grab her but she was moving around under the water. I was really struggling to breathe."

The lake contains four "extremely slippery" sloping polythene shelves designed as a safety feature to prevent drowning if someone falls in at the edge. At the centre, the maximum depth is two metres.

Kelsey Mahoney said Orla and Sarah were holding hands and went out too far.

"Sarah shouted for help. We thought she was messing. Ricky swam over to where they were," she said. "I ran for the life ring but the holder was empty. I couldn't see Ricky at that stage, he was gone under.

Kelsey had seen others "messing" with the life ring earlier that day.

Sarah recalled struggling to breathe and swallowing water. She was pulled from the lake unconscious.

"I could see people in the field playing but I couldn't scream. Then I went back down, I couldn't fight any more," she said.

Dublin Fire Brigade sub- officer John O'Flaherty, who responded to a call at 6.20pm, said he arrived to a scene of panic and chaos.

"There were young people shouting, 'He's in the water'," he said.

Visibility

Firefighters performed duck dives initially but visibility was poor.

"I came back up for breath and I felt something. I shouted to the others, 'He's here'," said Mr O'Flaherty.

The court heard that three deep-water warning signs and seven "no swimming" signs have been erected since the tragedy. An additional life ring has been added to the existing three.

Cause of death was hypoxic brain damage due to drowning. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell returned a verdict of death by misadventure, given the risks involved in the sloping nature of the lake.

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