Shock at drowning

The family of the teenager who drowned in Creggan Reservoir in the early hours of yesterday morning have described him as a big and gentle young man who loved people and loved life.

Connor McCafferty, 19, from Cromore Gardens, drowned after getting into difficulties while swimming.

Yesterday Connor’s uncle, Brian Moore, described the apprentice joiner as “a big smiling young fella who liked to enjoy himself.”

He said his loss was a tragic and shocking one for his family and would be felt in the community generally.

“Connor was a very popular young man. There is no more proof needed than the fact 200 people gathered along the water’s edge of the Creggan Reservoir all night to wait for him.

“He was a 6’3” tall smile. Connor was always happy, he loved helping others and was always the life and soul of the party.

“It is a big loss to the family.”

The Mayor of Derry, Councillor Kevin Campbell, was among the many people expressing sympathy to the family yesterday.

“I know the family personally and it is a tragic and very personal loss for them. They are in our thoughts and prayers at this time, as they are trying to come to terms with such dreadful news.”

A second teenager had to be rescued by Fire and Rescue Service crews after he too got into trouble.

The local commander of the Fire and Rescue Service, Barry McDowell, said; “Creggan could have faced a double drowning tragedy but for the prompt actions of the Fire Service.

“When we arrived we attempted to hold a number of young people back from going into the water. However due to the numbers involved, some managed to enter the water and one male got into difficulties. If we hadn’t been there he would have died. I have no doubt about that.”

“The scene was very emotional. It was a very stressful atmosphere - incredibly stressful for the family but also for those volunteers who assisted in the search.”

The alarm was raised shortly before 1am when Connor’s friends saw him getting into difficulties in the reservoir and then slipping below the surface. The emergency services and Foyle Search and Rescue arrived quickly at the scene. His body was recovered by police divers at around 5.30am. See page 3.