'We don't want another river tragedy'
As the Midlands bakes in a major heatwave, a 19-year-old who recently lost his mother in a drowning tragedy in Athlone has urged locals to beware of the dangers posed by swimming in the river.
“We don't want anything like to this to happen again,” said Bealnamulla resident Tadhg McGuire.
He was speaking to the Westmeath Independent on Monday, which was exactly one month since his Mum, Jackie, died after getting into difficulty in the Shannon.
She had been swimming by the Golden Mile, south of the motorway bridge in Athlone, when the alarm was raised on the evening of Wednesday, May 23.
A search, carried out by the Lough Ree RNLI and Athlone Sub Aqua Club, retrieved Jackie from the water and she was airlifted to Galway University Hospital by Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 118.
Tadhg had received a phonecall from a friend telling him about the incident and he then called into the Garda station to ask for information. They confirmed what had happened, and he and his sister Kylie (15) travelled to Galway that evening.
“It was a shock, but we thought that she would pull through,” he said.
His mother “fought hard” before sadly passing away in the early hours of May 25. Jackie had “loved swimming” but she would generally swim in a pool rather than in the river.
Tadhg himself used to swim with friends in Coosan but he said he would never go swimming in the river again and he urged others to do likewise.
“People are probably not going to listen to me, but my message would be: don't go in the water.
“You might think it’s safe now, but then you get in and the current gets you… you don’t really know about it until something bad happens.”
* To read the full story, see this week's Westmeath Independent