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Irish musician drowns in bid to save friend

AN Irish teenager's body has been recovered in Brazil just one day after he tried to save a friend from drowning.

Musician Timothy Kennelly (18) and his bandmate Leon Villalba (21), both died after they got into difficulties while swimming off Atalaia beach.

Mr Kennelly's family are all Irish and live in London, but the Department of Foreign Affairs here will still offer their services to his family.





Dangerous

A department spokesperson said last night: "The Department of Foreign Affairs are providing consulate assistance to the family."

The area where the tragedy occurred is known to be a particularly dangerous point for swimming, but Timothy followed his friend into the water in a bid to save him when he noticed he was struggling.

Leon Villalba's body was washed up on shore last Thursday and a search was launched to recover Mr Kennelly.

His body was then discovered about 12 miles south.

Both men were members of the heavy metal band After Death, which was in the middle of a 23-date tour of Brazil.

Timothy joined the group six months ago as a bass player.

Drummer Barry O'Connor (22) witnessed the tragedy. He said the waves were crashing heavily on the pair before a "massive" one took them both under.

"The waves started getting heavier and I came out. But Tim and Leon went out further and looked really confident.

"The next thing I know, I heard Leon screaming 'help! help! help!' Tim heard him and turned around and swam toward him.





Struggling

"He exerted lots of energy doing that and by the time he got to Leon, he was struggling also," said Barry.

Other members of the band, guitarist Marc Yacas and singer Kendo Ken, have vowed to continue on with their tour as a tribute to their friends.

"We'll complete the tour in their honour," they told reporters in Brazil.

Mr Kennelly is believed to be from Schull, Co Cork, and returned to Ireland briefly for the Christmas holidays.

He leaves behind his brother, Diarmuid and sister, Monica Doyle.

hnews@herald.ie