herald

Monday 24 July 2017

Tragic mum fell off holiday boat and drowned as her children slept inside

Police and emergency services at the scene of the boating accident at Devenish Island, near
Enniskillen
Police and emergency services at the scene of the boating accident at Devenish Island, near Enniskillen

A mother has died after an Easter break boating trip with her family turned into a tragedy.

Tributes have been paid to "loving and caring" mother-of-two Luna McKinney (35), who drowned during the family outing in the North.

The family were on a boat at Devenish Island, near Enniskillen, when the tragedy struck in the early hours of yesterday morning.

It is understood the victim was checking on ropes attached to the boat when she fell into the water.

Her husband, Stephen, who was alerted by the splash of his wife going into the water, dived in to try and rescue her.

When he couldn't locate her in the dark, he contacted emergency services.

Beautiful

Locals in the couple's home village of Convoy, Co Donegal, last night paid tribute to Ms McKinney, who is originally from China.

A neighbour in the Flax Fields estate, who asked not to be named, described her as a "loving mother and a caring" person.

"She was just the nicest woman you could meet," the neighbour said.

"Stephen just came back there and he is absolutely exhausted, he doesn't want to speak to anybody.

"Luna had long, flowing hair, like her daughter. She was a beautiful woman.

"We just can't make sense of it. You hear about tragedies like this all the time, but when it happens literally on your own doorstep it's very hard to bear."

It is understood Luna and Stephen had been living in the Convoy parish for at least four years with their 13-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter

Local Sinn Fein councillor Liam Doherty said that the community was "shocked and stunned" at the tragic loss of life.

"The mood locally, people are just shocked and stunned by it," Mr Doherty told the Herald.

"The people who knew them are only coming to terms with it, and how this tragedy happened.

"They were on their Easter break, with their kids, on a family outing when this tragedy struck them. I still can't believe it.

"When I heard it was Donegal I didn't realise it was so close to home in the small parish of Convoy."

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has launched an investigation into the incident. They are treating it as an accident.

After falling from the vessel, Ms McKinney was located by rescue workers just metres from the back of the boat.

CPR was performed on the woman at the dockside and en route to the hospital.

Despite the best efforts of doctors, she died.

Her two children were asleep at the time of the tragedy.

PSNI Chief Inspector Clive Beatty said that the woman's husband is still in a state of shock at this stage.

During the 999 call, the husband "told us that his wife and his children, aged 13 and 11, were up on holidays from Donegal for the weekend and they were moored for the night at a very popular tourist attraction in a hired cruiser when his wife went to check on the ropes securing the boat," Chief Insp Beatty said.

Shock

"A multi-agency response was launched immediately and a major search operation got underway.

"However, around 40 minutes after the 999 call, the woman's body was recovered from the scene.

"He is very, very shocked. He is still in a state of shock as we speak and he is being looked after by medical professionals and by his wider family circle," Chief Insp Beatty told RTE radio.

"They were up on holidays to enjoy the beautiful waterways of Fermanagh but unfortunately it turned into a very tragic event."

He expressed his heartfelt condolences to the woman's family and thanked all emergency services who attended the scene.

There were "valiant efforts" at the scene to resuscitate the young mum before she was rushed to hospital.

"It's a very terrible accident indeed," he added.

He appealed for all waterway users to wear a life jacket at all times.

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