Nothing more drowned teenagers’ friends could have done to prevent Lough Enagh tragedy, inquest told

Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian drowned while swimming at Lough Enagh in August last year.

A group of teenagers who tried to rescue two friends from drowning in a Co Londonderry lough should be commended for their efforts, a senior firefighter has said. Mark Deeney from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) told the inquest into the deaths of Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian that there was nothing more that their friends could have done. The two 16-year-olds drowned while swimming at Lough Enagh in August last year. They were with a group of friends who had gone to the lough to swim on a sunny day.

The boys were from Derry’s Indian Keralan community and had been due to return to St Columb’s College after receiving their GCSE results. Coroner Anne-Louise Toal is presiding in the inquest into their deaths at Coleraine Courthouse. Giving evidence on the second day of proceedings was Mr Deeney, who was NIFRS Western Area Commander at the time of the tragedy. He told the court that when he arrived at the scene following an emergency call he met two male adults on a small jetty at the lough who said two boys were missing in the water. Mr Deeney said: “I asked where they were last seen and they indicated in the area of the lake approximately five metres from the end of the jetty. “I asked how long they had been missing in the water for and they said less than 15 minutes.” Mr Deeney said an NIFRS water rescue team entered the lough and Reuven’s body was found about 20 minutes later. He said the NIFRS team left the water and handed the operation over to the PSNI when darkness fell, with Joseph’s body still not recovered. Asked if he had anything to add to his statement, Mr Deeney said: “Just to express my condolences to the families of the two boys on behalf of myself and of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and to reassure them that everything that could possibly be done, was done to try and rescue the boys and recover them.” He said Reuven’s body was located in the location where the other boys who had been swimming had indicated he had last been seen. Mr Deeney said: “I don’t think there is anything more they (the other teenagers) could have done that would have made a difference to recovering their friends. “I think the boys who tried to rescue their friends are to be commended for doing so, putting themselves at risk. There was nothing more they could have done.” Ms Toal is expected to deliver her findings in the inquest on Wednesday.

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