• Friday, December 01, 2023


Inquest begins for two Indian-origin teens who drowned in northern Ireland

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

AN inquest opened on Monday (25) into the deaths of two teenagers who got into difficulty while swimming in Northern Ireland.

Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian, both 16 and belonging to the local Kerala community in County Derry, drowned while swimming in the Enagh Lough, or Enagh Lake, in August last year.

Local reports said one of the boys was taken from the water and transferred to Altnagelvin Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. The second teenager was pronounced dead at the scene after being recovered from the water after searches by police divers.

“We know both families and can only imagine the incalculable pain they are feeling today,” the North West Migrants Forum said in a statement at the time.

“Thanks must also go to emergency services who were on the scene. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Kerala community as they try to make sense of this awful tragedy. Remembered fondly,” it said.

Both boys were pupils at St Columb’s College in Derry, Northern Ireland. The school principal, Finbar Madden, expressed “shock and sadness” of the local community.

“No words can express the devastation that we feel as a school community, but first and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with both boys’ families, community and friends,” he said.

Their funeral in September last year was attended by a large congregation and held according to the rites of the Syro-Malabar Church, with music from Kerala.

At the opening of the inquest this week, details were presented of the summer day in August 2022 when the group of six boys cycled to Enagh Lough, bringing towels with them as they planned to swim.

Joseph Sebastian’s father, Sebastian Jose, called for more warning signs about open-water swimming at the lake.

One witness, Reuven’s brother Evan Simon, described the water as “very cold” and “dark green in colour”. Reading from his statement, he said after around 10 or 15 minutes of being in the water, he noticed Joseph Sebastian, who was around eight metres from the shore, getting into trouble. Another witness told the inquest the boys all held hands to try to help.


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