herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Pals look on in horror as teen drowns in lake

A young schoolboy has died after he went swimming with friends at an off-limits reservoir.

The boy, named locally as Gareth McGuirk (13), of 
St Laurence Park, Moneymore, Drogheda, died after he got into difficulty while swimming at the Rosehall reservoir in north Drogheda yesterday afternoon.

It is understood he was paddling with two other teenagers in a shallow area, but Gareth appeared to lose his footing where the bottom sharply plunged to 30ft and he disappeared under the water.

His two friends tried to swim out to him but could not locate him.

Their calls for help were heard by people on the shore, who were trying to throw a rope out to where he disappeared.

A friend of Gareth's who saw what was happening rang her father to alert emergency services.

The alarm was raised around 3.45pm yesterday and Coast Guard units from Drogheda and Dublin, along with paramedics and gardai rushed to the scene of the disused quarry that is now used as a man-made freshwater lake for a local angling club.

But Gareth could not be located in time and his body was retrieved by drivers from the Boyne Fishermens Rescue and Recovery unit at around 5pm.

Gareth's devastated family and friends watched in agony as his lifeless body was taken from the water.

Diver Richard Skelly said a team of three divers found Gareth's body about 25 feet from the edge of the rectangular lake which is more than 30 feet in the middle.

He said it was a tragedy for everyone involved.

"It was gut-wrenching stuff," he said.

"There were tragic scenes at the bank with several family and friends trying to deal with it."

Gareth's body was removed to nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital where a post-mortem is to take place today.

Stunned

Neighbours living in the close-knit housing estate were too upset to talk about the tragedy last night.

Gareth was the eldest child of Noel Reid and Andrea McGuirk. He is survived by three sisters aged six, eight and 11 and a two-year-old brother.

Drogheda mayor Kevin Callan said the tragedy has stunned everyone in the Louth town.

The former reservoir was once used as a quarry by the Irish Cement company but had recently been re-furbished as an angling spot that was stocked with fish.

However, it is strictly off-limits to swimmers and the perimeter around the site has security fencing, according to a local resident.

Irish Water Safety spokesman John Leech said there have been about 10 drownings over the past six weeks alone.

However, he said the numbers this year is down over last year's July heatwave in which 13 people drowned on both sides of the Border in just 14 days.

hnews@herald.ie

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