Foyle rescue crews praise public

Foyle Search and Rescue staff pictured searching the river bank under the Foyle Bridge

Foyle Search and Rescue staff pictured searching the river bank under the Foyle Bridge

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Derry’s public have been praised for coming to the aid of volunteers searching for two bodies in the River Foyle.

On hand with fresh sandwiches, hot soups and stews, the local community has weighed in behind the volunteers during the bitterly cold and blustery weather conditions over the last two weeks.

Around 60 Foyle Search and Rescue Volunteers have spent much of the last fortnight scouring the river and its banks for any sign of two missing males who are believed to have plunged from Foyle Bridge - Dublin teenager Kieran McKeon and an as yet unidentified male.

On Sunday last high winds led to the river search being halted early but people still came out to support the volunteers.

Craig Smith, of Foyle Search and Rescue, said the support of the public was “fantastic”.

“On behalf of Foyle Search and Rescue, I’d like to say thanks to all the volunteers, the friends of the Foyle Search Rescue and particularly the various people from the local community who came out to help, bringing sandwiches and other food.

“It was really great to see the support.

“Thanks also to the Waterfoot Hotel which made us stew and the Magnet which made chicken curry. It was all very much appreciated, especially in such cold weather.

“The public assistance made our job less difficult in the challenging weather conditions and it is very much appreciated.”

Mr Smith confirmed that search is still ongoing for two people.

It was while the search for 18 year-old Kieran McKeon was ongoing on Monday week last that reports were received that a second male - described as wearing a black hoodie and carrying a blue ruck sack - was seen plunging from Foyle Bridge.

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“We are still looking for two people and we will continue to search. We will keep going,” Mr Smith added.

The length and breadth of the Foyle has been under the spotlight during a massive cross border search since the body of Kieran McKeon’s his girlfriend Alexandra O’Brien (21) was removed from the river on Thursday, March 14.

It was reported that on the previous evening the two had left St John of God’s Hospital, Stillorgan, for Derry, where they booked into a city centre hotel for the night.

Members of Kieran’s family travelled from Dublin to join the search in Derry last weekend.

A spokesperson for the PSNI said Kieran’s family members “expressed their sincere appreciation to all the agencies involved in the search to date”.

The major air, land and water search operation led by Foyle Search and Rescue has been aided by the Irish Coast Guard and Maiden City Sub Aqua Club and members of the public.

Foyle Search and Rescue volunteers have been searching from all vantage points on the banks and bridges of the city as well as on the water - in boats with sonar equipment and on jet skis.

A team of Irish Coast Guard personnel travelled from Killala Bay in Co Mayo to offer assistance with sonar search equipment, while the Coast Guard helicopter from Sligo has also been involved.

Irish Coast Guard personnel from Greencastle have been conducting the search from Culmore Point to Greencastle.

Civil air patrol from Skywatch has also been involved, with small drones used to search the area below the Foyle Bridge which is impossible to access due to the thick growth of high reeds.

The search was ongoing yesterday..