Boy (13) drowned while trying to save friend, inquest hears

Oisín Quigley died after falling into the River Lyreen during February 2016 incident

A 13-year-old boy drowned after he fell into a river during a bid to rescue his friend, an inquest has heard. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A 13-year-old boy drowned after he fell into a river during a bid to rescue his friend, an inquest has heard. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A 13-year-old boy drowned after he fell into a river during a bid to rescue his friend, an inquest into the boy’s death has heard.

Oisín Quigley, a second-year student at Maynooth Post Primary School, died on February 23rd, 2016, after trying to help his friend who was struggling to get out of the river, the inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday.

A group of two boys and one girl had met up before school on the date in question and gone to a field next to the River Lyreen, just outside Maynooth.

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

The group ate and talked and drank at the spot at Laraghbryan. The girl (13) 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.

“Oisín reached too far and fell in,” she said. She said she was holding his hand but she could not hold on and he floated down the river.

“Oisín looked so panicked, I remember him spinning around and the current taking him,” she said.

The third teenager said the two boys were trying to rescue the girl from the banks of the river when Oisín fell in.

“Oisín 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.

The court heard that the initial emergency call was made at 3.36pm. The caller was distressed and intoxicated and there was confusion initially as to their exact location.

Garda Garvan Kelleher was dispatched at 3.50pm and arrived at the scene at 3.55pm.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and first pulled the girl, who was clinging to the riverbank, to safety and then began to search for Oisín in cold water that was up to 1.6m deep.

He was spotted just under the surface of the river some 50m from where he fell in, the court heard. He was recovered from the water at 4.20pm.

He was taken to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin, where he was critically unwell upon arrival at 5.25pm. He did not respond to efforts to save his life and was pronounced dead at 6.14pm.

Cause of death

A postmortem determined that the cause of death was drowning with an elevated blood alcohol level, the court heard.

A toxicology screening revealed Oisín had had a blood alcohol level of 235mg per cent.

“He was a lovely lad, a good lad,” Oisín’s father, Eric Quigley, told the inquest.

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 [of] 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.