YOUNG people in Sion Mills are being urged not to swim in a treacherous stretch of the River Mourne mere yards away from where a local man previously drowned.
Dale Alexander (21) died in June 2009 while swimming with friends in the river.
This week, it has been reported that a group of young boys were seen jumping into the water near Sion weir.
According to Andy Patton, community activist and independent candidate for the forthcoming Derry City and Strabane District Council
elections, the youngsters were lucky to walk away with their lives.
Mr Patton says this particular stretch of the Mourne is “notorious for deep water, strong currents and hidden dangers underwater.”
“I received a phone call to say young boys had been seen jumping into the river at Sion Mills,” he said.
“Several young boys aged between 12 and 17 had been seen jumping into the river from one of the fields above the weir…
“Whilst on the phone the member of the public observed the boys then leaving the area.
“It is not known how long this madness had been going on. The water temperature alone can paralyse someone.”
Mr Patton says the late Dale Alexander perished not a stone’s throw away.
“He drowned up above this area, about 20 yards away,” Mr Patton continued. “It’s a really dangerous stretch.
“It’s deep water at the top end of the weir and there are mud banks and currents that you can’t see from the bank. Anyone jumping into the river here is risking their life.
“I don’t think there was any drink or drugs involved. This was just young lads up to some nonsense. Hopefully this was a one-off.”
He concluded, “If any parent suspects their youth was partaking in this, please have a long hard chat with them about the dangers they placed themselves in.”