Heartbreak as hopes fade at Creggan reservoir

The Reservoir, at Creggan Country Park. 3003JM10
The Reservoir, at Creggan Country Park. 3003JM10

The death of Creggan teenager Connor McCafferty yesterday is the second drowning tragedy to hit the estate in two consecutive summers.

It’s almost exactly a year since a massive search operation was sparked in Rathmullan after Creggan teenager Sean McNair drowned.

There were heartbreaking scenes at Creggan reservoir early yesterday morning as Connor’s family and friends realised he was not going to be rescued. He’d been spotted getting into difficulties shortly before 1am and although the emergency services were quickly at the scene it became clear there was little hope of his life being saved.

“This was due to the length of time the young man had been under the water,” explained Fire and Rescue Service Derry District Commander Barry McDowell.

Finally police divers arrived at the scene at 5am and Connor’s body was recovered by the PSNI team at 5.30am.

Gerry Quinn, manager of Creggan Country Park, had recently pleaded with young people not to enter the reservoir when closed.

In a statement yesterday, he said: “Creggan Country Park board and staff wish to convey our deepest sympathy to Angela, Barry and the extended family on the tragic loss of Connor last night.”

Commander Barry McDowell said: “Our summer safety message is to caution young people, indeed anyone, against going into open water without proper supervision and safety equipment. We urge people to avoid going into lakes, waters and reservoirs. The water is so cold and different from that found in a swimming pool, hypothermia doesn’t take long to set in. There is also the unknown dangers of sub-surface obstacles such as reeds, trolleys, even submerged cars.”

SDLP Councillor for Creggan, Jim Clifford, a personal friend of the McCafferty family, said: “The whole estate, indeed the condolences of the entire town are with this family on this tragic day.” He too urged “all young people to stay out of the reservoir”.

Connor’s funeral will be held at 10am on Monday in St. Mary’s Church, Creggan, with interment afterwards in the City Cemetery.