Those were the words of Leon Connon’s school principal yesterday as he paid an emotional tribute to the Cork teenager who lost his fight for life following a freak accident in Kinsale at the weekend.
Kinsale Community School principal Fergal McCarthy said the school community is heartbroken following Leon’s death on Tuesday.
“We are grieving as a community who has lost a member of its community,” said Mr McCarthy.
“Leon was very popular — very popular with his peers, with his classmates and with his teachers.
“He was highly regarded, he was bright, artistic, and capable, and we will miss him.”
Leon, aged 14, from The Orchards in Kinsale, had been on life support in Cork University Hospital since his neck got trapped in a freak railings accident in the housing estate on Saturday.
He lost consciousness and stopped breathing for several minutes before neighbours arrived on the scene to help him.
Several local RNLI volunteers with first aid training and members of the local fire service performed CPR on Leon for almost an hour before they restored his pulse.
He was then rushed in a critical condition to CUH, where he was placed on life support.
His parents, Dearbhail and Frank, maintained a bedside vigil but Leon’s condition did not improve. They had to make the agonising decision to switch the machine off on Tuesday, and Leon passed away a short time later.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised.
Mr McCarthy said the last few days had been very difficult for everybody.
“We prayed for a miracle — that he would come back to us — but unfortunately, that did not come to pass,” he said.
“He should be in school with us, laughing and learning, working and enjoying.”
The school’s flags were flying at half mast yesterday and a book of condolences has been opened.
The school’s chaplain has spoken to students and a range of supports are being provided for Leon’s grieving classmates.
It is expected that Leon’s classmates, will play a role in the funeral service.
Gardaí are treating the incident as a tragic accident and, pending the completion of an autopsy, will prepare a file for the coroner’s court.