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River now claims three victims fear

TWO bodies have been found in a river as rescuers seached for a third person missing for the last 12 days.

The discoveries were made in a stretch of the River Moy in Co Mayo as gardai searched for the missing 19-year-old man.

Searchers first recovered the body of Teresa Loftus at Coolcronan, outside Foxford, on Thursday. In her late 40s, she missing for three weeks.

A native of Cloontowart, Lisacul, Co Roscommon, she was last seen on March 4. Her car was discovered in Foxford the following day.

Foul play is not suspected and her death is being treated as a tragedy.

On Wednesday another body was taken from the river in Ballina. It was initially thought to be that of missing local youth, David Higgins (19), but it tragically turned out to be that of a family friend who had been part of the search team.

Tommie Helley (59), from Barrett Street in Ballina, had been searching with a large team of volunteers since the young man's disappearance in the early hours of Sunday, March 13.

The young man was spotted in the river at about 6.30am but gardai were unable to reach him.





divers

Naval Service divers had joined the search on Monday and recovered Mr Helley's body from the water on Wednesday.

He had not been reported missing and the discovery caused widespread shock.

It is thought he may have returned to search on his own for his friend's son after the organised search had ended earlier this week and possibly slipped into the river.

Yesterday the Mayor of Ballina, Cllr Frances McAndrew, said that the local community was "shattered" at the tragedy.

Mr Helley was single and had lived at his family home in the town since returning from the UK about 15 years ago. He worked as a barman.

Meanwhile, gardai are investigating the discovery of a body yesterday afternoon.

The grim discovery was made at around 2.30pm by a man on the shoreline at Clahane near Liascannor in Co Clare.

It is believed the body had been in the water for at least a week.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy was due to travel to Limerick last night to carry out a post mortem.

Gardai have yet to determine the sex or identity of the person.

hnews@herald.ie