Two teenagers who got into difficulty while swimming in a quarry near Ennis this afternoon have died.
The boys, both 15-years-of-age, were airlifted to University Hospital Limerick in a critical condition, but were later pronounced dead.
Confirming the double drowning tragedy, Chief Supt John Kerin of the Clare Garda Division said: "It’s a truly awful tragedy. Both were extremely popular and talented teenagers. Our hearts go out to their families."
Gardaí say the identities of the boys will not be released until their family members have been notified.
It’s understood the alarm was raised at around 3.30pm and a search mounted at disused quarry near Knockanean on the outskirts of Ennis.
Two units of Ennis fire service, including their water rescue unit, were initially mobilised to the incident along with gardaí and ambulance paramedics.
The Kilkee unit of the Irish Coast Guard, the Shannon based search and rescue helicopter and Clare Civil Defence were also involved in the operation.
Two teenagers, both aged around 15, have been airlifted to hospital after they got into difficulty while swimming in Co Clare this afternoon.
It’s understood that two casualties were soon located and brought ashore where efforts to resuscitate them were carried out. The Shannon Coastguard helicopter transferred the two to University Hospital Limerick.
An eye-witness described this evening of the frantic efforts to rescue the teens.
The local man phoned ‘999’ after friends of the two teenagers shouted to the man from across the pond to get help
Chief Supt John Kerin of the Clare Garda Division described the condition of the two as ‘critical’.
The senior garda said that both were under the water for a considerable period of time before they were taken from the water by members of the emergency services at the scene in a water body in a quarry at Gaurus, Roslevan on the outskirts of Ennis.
The eye-witness - who didn’t want to be named - said that he could hear young voices saying “hold him up, hold him up, hold him up”.
The local man went to the shore of the pond and phoned the emergency services.
The man said that the two could have been under the water “for 20 or 30 minutes - it is hard to know. There was a lot of confusion and we were trying to let the emergency services in."
The man said: “We responded as best as we could. It is terribly sad for the poor people.”
The water body - known as the ‘Quarry’ locally is a swimming blackspot - and there are signs at the entrance of the lands stating ‘Danger - Deep Water - No Swimming’ and ‘Danger silt Pond, Deep Water, Keep Clear'.
The incident today follows the death of an Ennis schoolboy who drowned in the same body of water in the early 1980s.
The local man said “because it is a quarry, it is 60 to 80 ft deep in spots”.
This evening after the majority of emergency services had left the scene after the rescue operation, two youths were jumping from rocks into the water and swimming.
The man said: “I told them what happened earlier and to get out of the water, but they ignored me. They don’t realise the significance of what happened earlier.”
A Civil Defence member on a jet ski could be seen going over to the two and telling them what had taken place earlier and to exit the water and he was also ignored by the two.
The local man said: “You will have teenagers back here tomorrow if it is hot. I am living here 20 years and I don’t see anyone paying heed to the signs yet.”
Chief Supt Kerin said that the two were part of a larger number of five or six youths swimming in the water.
He said that a number of the youths got into difficulty and two went under the water at around 4pm. He said that the parents and families of the two critically injured teenagers have been notified and were on their way to the hospital.
Insp John Ryan said that it was a very distressing scene at the scene as the operation to rescue the two took place.