Tributes to boys named locally as Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian who died in Lough Enagh tragedy

  • By UTV Correspondent Gareth Wilkinson

A "city is heartbroken" after two teenagers lost their lives in a tragic drowning incident yesterday, an MLA has said.

The teenagers - named locally as Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian - died after getting into difficulty at Lough Enagh in Co Londonderry on Monday evening.

It is understood one boy got into trouble in the water and his friend went to help him.

SDLP MLA for Foyle Mark H Durkan said: "The whole city is heartbroken at the devastating loss of these two beautiful boys, Mr Reuven Simon and Mr Joseph Sebastian, in yesterday's tragedy at Enagh Lough yesterday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and the Kerala community at this unbelievably dark and difficult time."

The incident unfolded when a group of teenagers entered the water at a jetty.

The boys had stopped off at the lough while cycling in the area.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy said: “This is a very sad day for our city and district. The sad loss of two teenage lives in such circumstances is devastating for all of us.

"As a mother, my heart goes out to the boys’ parents and to their family and friends at this time, I hope you get the strength and support you need to get you through your huge loss.

“Our rivers and loughs can be so dangerous and this incident highlights more than ever the need for us all to be vigilant at this time of year.

"My thoughts are also with the boys’ friends who were there last night and who witnessed the tragedy and to their school friends and teachers who should have been welcoming them back to school this week.

“I want to extend a special note of acknowledgement and thanks to everyone involved in the rescue operation, to the emergency services on the ground and the many volunteers who showed up to help as well all the staff at Altnagelvin Hospital. It has been a very difficult time for all of them and they are all in my thoughts and prayers.”

Mayor Duffy added she was confident local people in the area would rally behind the family and friends of the boys as they come to terms with their loss.

“We are united in our grief today and all of us are here to offer our support to the families in the difficult days ahead,” she said.

The PSNI's Inspector Brogan said: "Inquiries are ongoing into this incident but we believe, at this stage, that this was a tragic drowning incident.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those affected."

Mark Deeney, Western Area Commander, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service said: “The thoughts and sympathies of Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service are with the families and friends of those affected by a tragic drowning incident at Enagh Lough in the Temple Road area of Derry/Londonderry.

“Yesterday evening (Monday 29 August 2022) at 6.31pm Firefighters were called to a water rescue incident at Temple Road near Strathfoyle. Three Fire Appliances from Crescent Link Fire Station including a Specialist Water Rescue Team,  two Fire Appliances from Northland Fire Station, one Fire Appliance from Strabane Fire Station and a Specialist Rescue Team from Central Fire Station attended the incident.

"On arrival we were informed that two teenage boys were missing in the water approximately five metres from the end of a jetty. Members of the Water Rescue Team from Crescent Link immediately entered the water and, supported by other personnel, were able to recover one of the boys within 20 minutes. He was transferred to hospital by NIAS but sadly did not survive.”

The Fire Service added firefighters along with other emergency services continued searching for the second boy but were unable to locate him.

His body was recovered just before midnight after an extensive search by Foyle Search and Rescue and a dive team deployed by the PSNI.

Commander Deeney added: “Despite the tragic outcome I would like to commend the efforts of our crews at the scene who worked tirelessly in an attempt to rescue the boys.

"Working in partnership with our colleagues in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Foyle Search and Rescue, everything possible was done to give them the best chance of survival.

"We are continuing to support our Crews today and indeed our colleagues in our Regional Control Centre with specialist debriefs following this challenging incident."  

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.