VIDEO: Water safety plea after ‘tragic accident’

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The warden of the Roe Valley Country Park in Limavady has urged the public to be extremely vigilant around open water.

The appeal comes in the wake of the tragic accident of Doagh teenager Steven Mitchell who died last Thursday after getting into difficulties in the River Roe at the Park.

Roe Valley Country Park Warden, Gerard Cutmore at Givens Weir, where the accident happened. (2307SJ5)

Roe Valley Country Park Warden, Gerard Cutmore at Givens Weir, where the accident happened. (2307SJ5)

The incident happened in the late afternoon sunshine when the 15-year old - visiting with family - is believed to have gone into the water at Givens Weir to retrieve a ball.

The emergency services were called to the Roe Valley Country Park at about 4.30pm on Thursday. A huge rescue operation was involved, involving all emergency services. The boy was airlifted by police helicopter - which managed to land in a field nearby - to Altnagelvin hospital. Police say the teenager is believed to have drowned.

Country Park Warden Gerard Cutmore has urged people to stay safe a round open water.

“We have had hundreds and hundreds of people in the Park in the last couple of weeks enjoying the good weather, but people must be mindful there are hazards everywhere. Water especially is a very dangerous thing and, while it may look beautiful and inviting, people and visitors must be careful around it and we would hope they will still come to Roe Valley Country Park and enjoy it. Be safe and play safe and enjoy it.”

Limavady Mayor Gerry Mullan said the “tragic accident” had touched everyone in the borough.

“Only the parents and close friends of this young person can begin to understand the sense of loss when a young person’s life is ended so tragically,” said Colr. Mullan.

“As Mayor of Limavady I offer the sympathy of the entire borough. Local people are shocked that such a tragedy could happen in this town in a park which is associated with leisure and enjoyment, particularly at the present time when so many people have been enjoying the good weather.

“All we can do is offer our prayers and hope that somehow his parents and friends will be above to get through this awful time as they make preparations for the funeral.”

Roe Valley Country Park is managed by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

Stormont’s Environment Minister Mark H Durkan expressed his sympathy to the Mitchell family saying he had ordered a report into the incident.

For a video of warden Gerard Cutmore online go to www.derryjournal.com