Teenagers drowned ‘in attempt to cool off’

TWO teenagers who drowned in Dublin’s Grand Canal during a night out with friends were intoxicated with ecstasy and cocaine and had gone swimming to cool down, an inquest heard yesterday.

David White, 18, of Carrigmore Avenue, City West, Saggart and Shane Coughlan, 18, of Mill Park, Clondalkin, were reported missing on February 25, 2007, when they failed to return from a trip to a petrol station to buy cigarettes and mobile phone credit in the early hours of the morning.

Shane Coughlan’s fully clothed body was recovered from the Grand Canal three days later by a Garda water unit who were conducting an underwater search for the two youths.

Mr White’s body was recovered at the Grand Canal six days after his disappearance on March 3.

An inquest at Dublin County Coroner’s Court yesterday heard that the teenagers may have gone into the water to cool down after taking ecstasy and cocaine.

“Ecstasy is a stimulant and may cause anxiety, excitement... which may result in rash and foolish behaviour. It may cause hyperthermia and Shane Coughlan may have deliberately gone into the water to cool down,” said the State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy.

Mr White may have gone into the water for the same reasons, she said.

Prof Cassidy found no evidence of significant injuries on either man to indicate assault and gave a cause of death in both cases of drowning with cocaine and ecstasy as contributory causes.

The pair of teenagers had been socialising with friends at Lindisfarne, Clondalkin, on the evening of February 24 and into the early hours of February 25.

At approximately 4.45am they left the group to go to a nearby service station to buy cigarettes and mobile phone credit.

One of their friends, Kelly Hinchon of St Ronan’s Close, Clondalkin, told the inquest that David rang her phone at 5.17am.

“They seemed grand,” she told the court. “Shane Coughlan wasn’t that drunk that night. He wasn’t falling around. I don’t really know how David was,” she said.

A man walking his dog by the Grand Canal that morning, Gerry Fitzpatrick, told the court he saw two young men by the side of the canal, at approximately 7.40am on the morning of February 25 at Fonthill Road Bridge.

Another passer-by, Denis O’Connor witnessed two men running “up and back” at the edge of the canal, “as if they were preparing to jump in”.

“When I turned to go back the lads were gone. I saw one lad... He was waving his hands in the air. I saw a [person] bobbing up and down in the water. I saw he wasn’t in any difficulty. He was swimming and keeping afloat. I did notice his face was red,” he said.

Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty returned a verdict of death by misadventure and expressed his condolences to both families.

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