REACTION: Sympathy expressed after teenage swimmer dies at north coast - ‘friends made valiant efforts to help him’ - boys were “coasteering” when the incident happened

A teenager has died following a “major incident” off the north coast.

By Gemma Murray
Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 3:35 pm

During the incident four people got into difficulties in the water.

Police have said they are “investigating the circumstances surrounding the sudden death of a young male”.

The young man’s body was recovered from the sea at Dunluce Castle near Bushmills on Tuesday evening.

Police said the death is not being treated as suspicious.

A second person was rescued after the alarm was raised just after 5pm.

The coastguard said that person suffered minor injuries, while two others were unharmed.

Coastguard teams from Coleraine and Ballycastle attended as well as the coastguard helicopter from Prestwick, Portrush RNLI lifeboats and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

A spokesman from Northern Ireland Ambulance service said: “The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service received a 999 call at 17:09 PM on Tuesday, 16 June 2020 following reports of an incident at Dunluce Road, Portballintrae.

“NIAS despatched one Emergency Crew, one Rapid Response Paramedic and one Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) Crew to the scene.

“Following assessment and initial treatment at the scene, no one was transported to hospital”.

The Coastguard’s Alistair Simpson told the BBC that: “Coasteering around this coastline is a very popular pastime, but we would really encourage people to take part in an organised coasteering group”.

16/06/20 MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA..Emergency services at the scene where a young man lost his life in an accident near Dunluce Castle, Portrush County Antrim. Pic McAuley Multimedia

The activity includes swimming off rocky coastlines and sometimes jumping into the sea from rocks.

The friends, who were wearing wetsuits, were in a cove known locally as the Lord’s Prayer when it is understood the teenager who died hit his head on a rock.

“There are groups here who organise it on a professional basis,” he added. “They are properly equipped and carry our suitable risk assessments.

“We would always encourage anyone doing coasteering to wear suitable protective equipment - bare minimum a wet suit, life jacket and helmet.”

16/06/20 MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA..Emergency services at the scene where a young man lost his life in an accident near Dunluce Castle, Portrush County Antrim. Pic McAuley Multimedia

Mr Simpson said that one of the teenager’s friends had suffered lower back injuries which were not serious.

Judith McNeice from the Coastguard also told the BBC that they received a call for help around 5pm yesterday that one swimmer had “got into difficulty” on the north coast.

She said the young man, believed to be in his late teens, “was pulled from the water and taken to the beach” but after being treated was deceased.

She said yesterday was a “beautiful day on the north coast” which she said wad “notorious for having a large swell even in most benign of weather”.

“Jumping off rocks when they don’t know what is underneath on the coast can be dangerous,” she added.

She said friends of the young man “made valiant efforts to save him” and whilst she knew what happened is “extremely distressing for them” they should “take comfort that they did everything they could for their friend”.

Fog falls on Dunluce castle, Portrush near where a teenage boy lost his life during a coastal accident on cliffs on Tuesday evening.Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

She advised youths to be away of “hidden dangers beneath the surface with rocks and strong currents” adding it was always important to go to “life guarded beaches if want to swim”.

UUP Councillor for Causeway Coast and Glens, Joan Baird, said: “I am so sorry as it is really, really heartbreaking to think that a young fella was killed.

“It is so sad and tragic for the family to lose a life so young.

“It is made even more poignant that we are still in semi-lockdown and it just must be dreadful for the family”.

She added that a lot of young people come to the north coast in the good weather.

“There are a lot of young people come to the north coast to go into the water,” she said.

“Young people need to make sure what they are doing is organised and they need the proper gear.

“You need wetsuits and helmets”.

DUP MLA Maurice Bradley said: “Near Dunluce Castle there has been a tragic coastal accident.

“A young person has sadly lost their lives.

“I would like to express my deepest sympathy to his family amnd family circle on the tragedy.

“The north coast is a wonderful place to visit but it has hidden dangers and I would urge caution and ask people to be very, very careful in and around the rocks”.

Last night SDLP MLA Cara Hunter said: “Hearing some heartbreaking news this evening that a young man has died following an accident by the cliffs near Dunluce Castle.

“My sincere thoughts and prayers are with the victims family. Thinking of them at this terribly sad time”.

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The scene at Dunluce castle when a young man died taking part in water sports yesterday. Coleraine and Ballycastle Coastguard Teams were tasked at 17:07 to a major incident near Dunluce Castle and Whiterocks Beach. Northern Ireland Ambulance service , Portrush inshore and All weather Lifeboats, RNLI Lifeguards, Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter R199 from Prestwick and PSNI involved.