Kyle’s Inquest leads to new life-belt force

Kyle Bonnes.
Kyle Bonnes.

A multi-agency group is to be set up to oversee the installation and replacement of life-belts in the wake of the death of teenage Kyle Bonnes.

Confusion reigns over who is responsible for life-saving equipment on the stretch of the river where Kyle died.

The Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), Derry City Council and the Loughs Agency have all said it is not within their remit.

However the council has now announced that despite not being responsible, it will take a lead role in pulling together key agencies to agree a new protocol on the matter.

Kyle Bonnes (15) drowned in the River Faughan on April 7th, 2010 after he ran away from police officers.

At the conclusion to his Inquest on Tuesday at Magherafelt Courthouse, Northern Ireland Senior Coroner John Leckey said that the 15-year-old’s death may have been prevented if there had been life-saving equipment available at the time.

Mr Leckey announced his intention to write to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure over provision and maintenance of life-belts on the Drumahoe stretch of the Faughan where the tragedy unfolded. Derry City Council were also to be contacted on the matter.

FS&R chairman Stephen Twells, who was one of those involved in the recovery of Kyle’s body and who gave evidence at the Inquest, told the Journal afterwards that if there had been life-jackets available, the outcome may have ben different.

He said: “Had there been a life-belt there, police or the people there would have been able to throw it to him.”

The Inquest heard on Tuesday how two police officers had tried to reach Kyle using tree branches but the boy was unable to get a hold of them.

A spokeswoman for Derry City Council said it was committed to clarifying where responsibility lies, and would take a lead role in pulling everyone together “given the seriousness of the tragic incident at Drumahoe and the Coroner’s comments”.

A spokeswoman for DCAL said it “does not provide public rescue equipment at these waters”, but worked closely on safety issues with other agencies. A spokeswoman for the Loughs Agency meanwhile said: “We police the fishing but we have no public safety responsibility.”