herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Drownings on course to be lowest on record

Eric and Gordana with the last photo taken of Oisin
Eric and Gordana with the last photo taken of Oisin

The number of Irish people who will have drowned in 2017 looks set to reach a record low.

Provisional figures for 2017 show 39 people have died in the water - five of them abroad - compared to 123 last year.

Eight children drowned in 2016 compared to just two so far this year.

However, John Leech, the chief executive of Irish Water Safety (IWS), said the figures are only provisional because some deaths are still to go through the coroner's courts.

"In my 17 years here, 2017 has seen the lowest number of drownings," said Mr Leech.

Boats

The previous lowest number of recorded drownings was in 1936, when 73 people died.

However, there was far less risk of drowning at the time, said Mr Leech.

"The level of water activity was incredibly low back then. There were not so many boats, yachts or dinghies," he said.

About 30pc of drowning victims have consumed alcohol, according to the IWS.

Last year, of the 123 victims, 82 were accidental, 29 were suicide and 12 were undetermined.

Prevention has been a major factor in the drop in numbers, said Mr Leech.

The latest figures come after the parents of tragic teenager Oisin Quigley (13), who died while saving a girl from a river in Maynooth last year, told the Herald he was a hero.

Oisin's father, Eric, said the family intend to honour him with the word "hero" inscribed on his headstone.

"There's going to be a heart on it," said Mr Quigley. Inside the heart will be the words 'Always With Us' in Irish.

"At the bottom of the headstone, we have son, brother, friend, hero."

Both Mr Quigley and Oisin's mother, Gordana, said their son "jumped in without hesitation" to save a friend from the Lyreen river.

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