Great Britain

Family of boy, 5, found dead in lake ‘devastated’ after he was ‘blown off inflatable dinghy by wind’

THE family of a five-year-old pulled from an Irish lake are “devastated” after he was reportedly blown off an inflatable on Bank Holiday Monday.

Little Ben Duffy was on a dinghy while his family played nearby, but a gust of wind pushed the boat out into deeper water, their local priest has said.

By the time the inflatable was caught up with, the boy was missing and a frantic search was sparked.

Tragically, it was called off in the early hours of Tuesday morning after his body was found by rescuers.

Partry parish priest Fr John Kenny told The Irish Sun: “It’s a safe bathing area on the lake but the little boy was on a little dinghy and the wind took the craft out further than where it would have been safe for him to be.

“And it drifted onto the lake further than anybody would go bathing.

“When they caught up with the dinghy he wasn’t in it anymore so we don’t know what happened - expect he must have fallen out or jumped out.”

Do you know the family involved in the tragedy? Get in touch on [email protected] or 02077823468

Fr Kenny added: “The family were using the little dinghy as part of the fun and games in the shallow safe part of the lake but he went a bit too far with it and the wind brought it further.

“Wherever it went to, it appears if he would have stayed on it, he might have been safer but he must have fallen out for some reason.

“It’s a tight-knit community and the boy went to the local school and some of his classmates and neighbours would have been swimming in the local vicinity swimming in the same area where it happened.

It’s very very tragic circumstances for the family. It’s just devastation out there for the whole community.

Councillor

“I know the family well. They’re very active in the parish through the school mostly but they’re also very parish involved and anything to do with local sports or organisations.

“Ben was a lovely little boy. He was one of the youngest in his class. He was bright-eyed literally bright-eyed and cheerful.

"Always full of life but particularly he was a very smiley little boy.

“The whole community feels for the loss of Ben for his family and we convey our sympathies and we want them to all know we’re here for them even though it’s difficult particularly with all the restrictions. It makes it even more poignant.”

The tragic accident happened near the Tourmakeady side of the Lough Mask in Co Mayo at around 6:30pm on Monday.

The Irish Sun understands Ben, who was a Junior Infants student at Scoil NaisiuntaThuar Mhic Eadaigh, was one of five children to parents Alan and Tracey - it is believed he had three brothers and one sister.

Fr Kenny added: “The family are obviously devastated and the community are in shock. What was a normal summer’s day turned into a tragedy in a matter of minutes.

“I happened to be in the vicinity when it happened running an outdoor charity raffle and when we saw the helicopters coming we called everything off and some of us made our way to the shoreline to be with the family.

“Local people had begun the search already. Everyone on the shoreline felt so helpless and sad for the family.”

FAMILY TRAGEDY

The family who have been described as “popular” were heavily involved in the community in GAA and football and mum Tracey is believed to teach dance.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Burke also paid tribute to Ben. He said: “It’s very very tragic circumstances for the family. It’s just devastation out there for the whole community.

"Obviously, what was a very enjoyable day no doubt for families turned into disaster with the loss of a young five-year-old boy.

“With Covid, everything was tied down with no school, no nothing over the last few months and the Bank Holiday weekend comes and there was a little bit of freedom.

“I suppose people felt like they could go down to the lake because they live very close to it. To think it turned into such a disaster is unbelievable."

The Fine Gael councillor also praised all the people who were involved in the search effort for Ben.

A Garda spokesman said: “Gardai in Castlebar assisted by Coast Guard, Civil Defence, Lough Mask Water Rescue and local divers can confirm that the search operation for the five-year-old boy has been stood down as his body was recovered from Lough Mask.”

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