Incident Patterns Emerging in Northern Ireland

Anywhere near water can be dangerous if you are not careful, but are some places more dangerous than others?

During logging incidents  I started to notice a pattern emerging that have occurred around Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Since 2005, there have logged 5 incidents within County Antrim alone and all of a similar nature. Ned McDonald,44, drowned off the shore at Portrush after he got into some difficulties in the water just hours after a young boy had to rescued from the same place. The emergency services were all on alert from this however were unable to get the man in time and he later died in hospital.

It was on the anniversary of Ned McDonalds death that a Serge Etok, 15, originally from Cameroon who was holidaying with family died in the same area after a rip tide pulled him under. Even though lifeguards and authorities in the area were increased, the boy was swimming just out a supervised zone when the tragedy occurred. A 60 year old man attempted to save the boy but almost drowned as well before having to be rescued by emergency services.

Two weeks before young Serge Etok drowned, tourism official and experienced body boarder David Roulston, 46, drowned a little way down the coast at Downhill when stopping off at the beach there after a family holiday. David went into the water with his daughter who was the one who raised alarm when she saw her father’s body board float towards shore with David nowhere in sight. The weather conditions had changed for the worse and the water became very choppy as emergency services were called in. Even a helicopter brought in from Scotland could not rescue the man as conditions became so rough. In the end a lifeboat from the area recovered David from the water where attempts were made to revive him, however they proved unsuccessful as David died.

It was at roughly the same spot a couple months earlier that another 15 year old boy drowned after his dinghy capsized. Robert McMullan was airlifted to hospital where he later died.

Most recently it was an 11 year old girl who fell victim to the Northern Irish coast. Bethany Cousins, from Lurgan, Northern Ireland, drowned whilst body boarding just off the shore at the Bushfoot Strand section of the beach in Portballintrae at around 2pm Sunday 15th July 2012. Her father and a passerby both tried to rescue Bethany from the water and emergency services worked to revive her at the scene before she was taken to Causeway Hospital, who had experience in drownings as it was the same hospital that Ned McDonald was taken too. Sadly, Bethany later died in hospital.

With such a pattern of incidents in and around the same place, examples are evident of how dangerous the sea can be, even at the best of times. Questions can be raised about the safety of the area and whether or not there are natural dangers with the location as opposed to the incidents just being coincidence.

As we continue to log incidents we will be able to see if this type of pattern is typical of a popular beach area or if there is something particularly dangerous happening here?

Ned McDonald:

Serge Etok:

Robert McMullan:

Bethany Cousins:

David Roulstan:





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