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Strabane community shocked by Lough Erne boat tragedy

The boat involved in the tragedy moored at the rear of Devenish Island along with a police boat.  Picture: Pacemaker Press.

The boat involved in the tragedy moored at the rear of Devenish Island along with a police boat.
Picture: Pacemaker Press.

 
A STRABANE priest has paid tribute to the 35-year old woman who died after falling overboard from a boat on Lough Erne, County Fermanagh.
 
Luna McKinney who was originally from China was on a break with her husband Stephen and their two young children
when the accident happened at Devenish Island at around 1.20am on Thursday.
 
Stephen a former Strabane man and his family moved to Convoy, County Donegal a few years back. The couple who were on an Easter vacation had hired a cruiser with their children, a boy aged 13 and girl aged 11.
 
Father Michael Doherty from Melmount parish, Strabane knows the McKinney family personally and described them as a “respected family”.
 
“Stephen’s parents are very much involved in the parish,” said Fr Doherty.
 
“His mother Gabrielle is a Eucharist Minister in the parish and his father Frank is very much involved with the local scouts. I remember Stephen from his schooldays but I met Luna a few years ago when I baptised their two children on their return from China.”
 
Expressing the sense of shock at the tragedy, Father Doherty said the community would rally around the family.
 
“Hopefully Stephen and his youngsters will get all the support they need from their family and friends at this time,” he said.
 
PSNI Chief Inspector Clive Beatty said the rescue services had battled to save the life of the young mother, after recovering her body from the water.
 
“We received a call at around 1.15am from a very distressed male who said his wife had fallen into the water.
 
“We responded immediately by land and water and within a matter of minutes we found her body.
 
“We made valiant attempts to resuscitate the lady at the time and while transferring her across the water to the waiting ambulance, and CPR was continued while they were on their way to the hospital, but unfortunately she died a short time after arrival.”
 
The police officer added, “It’s a terrible tragedy for the family. Water is extremely dangerous and I would appeal to everybody who comes to Fermanagh to obey the rules of the water and always wear a lifejacket. It was a difficult operation because of the emotion and circumstances involved.”
 
An investigation into the circumstances of the death  is now underway and a post mortem examination is expected to be carried out.
 
The PSNI have offered their sympathies to the family and praised the efforts of the agencies involved in the rescue operation.
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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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