Inquest hears how 13-year-old was swept away in attempt to rescue friend

An inquest has heard how a 13-year-old boy drowned after he fell into a river in a bid to rescue his friend.

Oisin Quigley, a second year student at Maynooth Post Primary, entered a river to help his friend who was struggling to get out. He lost his footing and was swept away by the current on February 23, 2016.

Oisin was one of three second year students who did not go to school that day, an inquest into his death heard. The two boys and one girl met before school and brought blankets with them to a field next to the River Lyreen, just outside the town.

One of the three brought two bottles of gin which they mixed with an energy drink, the inquest heard.

The three ate and talked and drank at a spot close by the river at Laraghbryan, Maynooth, The 13 year old girl said she does not recall the details of what happened next but remembers the other two reaching for her to help her out of the river.

“Oisin reached too far and fell in,” she said. She said she was holding his hand but she couldn’t hold on and he floated down the river. “Oisin looked so panicked, I remember him spinning around and the current taking him,” she said.

The third teen said they were trying to rescue the girl from the banks of the river when Oisin fell in. “Oisin lost his grip and slipped in. I brought (the girl) back to the bank and looked up and he wasn’t there. I grabbed her phone to call an ambulance,” he said.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that the initial emergency call was made at 3.36pm. The caller was distressed and intoxicated. There was confusion initially as to the teens exact location. Garda Garvan Kelleher was dispatched at 3.50pm and arrived at 3.55pm. Firefighters first pulled a girl who was clinging to the riverbank to safety and then began to search for Oisin in cold water up to 5.5 feet deep. He was spotted just under the surface around 50 meters from where he fell in, the court heard.

He was recovered from the water at 4.20pm. He was rushed to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin where he was critically unwell upon arrival at 5.25pm. Tragically, he did not respond to efforts to save his life and was pronounced dead at 6.14pm.

The cause of death was drowning with an elevated blood alcohol level, according to a post-mortem. A toxicology screening revealed a blood alcohol level of 235 milligrams per cent.

“He was a lovely lad, a good lad,” Oisin’s father Eric Quigley said.

Returning a verdict of death by misadventure, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said she hoped the case might prevent other young people from engaging in similar behaviour.

“The very sad and tragic facts of this case speak for themselves. It serves to remind young people the risks attached to certain behaviour. It has been very difficult and affecting to hear this evidence, it’s such a tragic event, an occurrence of seconds that deprived you of your son,” Dr Cullinane said.

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