Sunny day swim turns to tragedy in Monasterevin

A Newbridge family has been left devastated by the death of their son in a drowning accident in Monasterevin last Saturday, May 26.

A Newbridge family has been left devastated by the death of their son in a drowning accident in Monasterevin last Saturday, May 26.

Patrick ‘Pa’ Smyth (22) of Allenview Heights lost his life in a disused quarry in Ballykelly as he was swimming with friends on a scorching hot day.

Patrick got into difficulties in the water and, despite his friends’ attempt to rescue him, slipped into the depths of the quarry lake known locally as ‘The Blue Lagoon’.

The accident happened around 4pm, and Garda sub-aqua divers attempted to retrieve the Newbridge man. His body was recovered at 7.30pm and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Yesterday, his family praised the bravery of his friends who tried to save his life.

Patrick’s mother Helen described her Manchester United-mad son as a “daredevil who would do anything”.

Patrick had jumped into the water with his runners on. While he was initially laughing after he surfaced, he got into difficulties and started roaring for help.

The family believes that he may have banged his head after he jumped into the lake.

His friend James Lanigan did his best to keep Patrick afloat, and another friend, Jamie Maher, swam some distance into the water to try help the stricken young man.

A third friend, Stephen Lyons, searched the quarry bank in vain for a lifering or buoy, according to Patrick’s cousin and close friend Brian McDonagh.

Mrs Smyth said that her son had not been drunk when he dived into the lake. The group had bought some cans to the lakeside, but decided to go swimming before drinking.

The disused quarry is located on private land and there is a ‘No Swimming’ sign at the site.

“People do not look at the signs, I probably would have jumped in for a swim,” said Mr McDonagh.

“I know it was on private property, but who listens to that when you are young?”

He called for lifesaving equipment to be installed at the quarry - “it could save a life”, said the grief-stricken young man.

A crowd gathered by the lake at Lakeside Park, near Allenview Heights, on Saturday evening to keep a vigil as the search for Patrick’s body went on.

Newbridge Mayor Damien Molyneux said: “All the young lads his age are devastated in the town. It is extremely sad - he was just cooling off, that’s all he was doing. I sympathise with the whole family.”

Patrick was a past pupil of Scoil Mhuire Primary School, and St Conleth’s Community College in Newbridge, where his mother works part-time. Yesterday principal Mary Lonergan said: “We in St. Conleth’s are greatly saddened by the tragic loss of Patrick and will continue to support the family in these difficult times.”

Meanwhile Gardai have warned about the dangers of swimming in unpatrolled stretches of water. “We are warning people not to swim in lakes and disused quarries. They are extremely dangerous,” said a Garda spokesman.

Patrick’s funeral will take place at 10am on Wednesday morning to Cill Mhuire Church in Newbridge.

Laura Coates