‘Rhys was splashing and struggling. Then he was gone’

“HELP me lads, help me.”
The frantic pleas of 17-year-old Rhys Jack that echoed around Strabane quarry as he tried to clamber to safety.

Tragically a sunny Monday turned into a nightmare when the young man drowned in the waters of Strabane quarry.

Rhys was one of six teenagers who went out on to the water on a makeshift raft at around 4.30pm. His five friends managed to make it to safety before raising the alarm.

Those same friends joined dozens of others on Tuesday to hold a vigil close to the quarry as searches for Rhys’ body were carried out.

At around 1pm PSNI divers signalled that the young man’s remains had been found.

One of those who had been enjoying a day out with Rhys was his friend Paul Connolly.

Speaking to the Strabane Chronicle at the quarry, Paul recalled the moment when tragedy struck.

“We came up to jump off the pier and we found a big gym mat.
“We floated it on the water and we were all just carrying on. I jumped off it to swim to the rocks and Rhys jumped in too.

“I made it to the edge and Rhys started shouting.
“He was trying to swim but he just kept shouting ‘help me, help me’,” Paul continued.


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