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Communities 'deeply shocked' following boating tragedy

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Communities 'deeply shocked' following boating tragedy thumbnailDevenish Island, Co Fermanagh.

THE East Donegal and Strabane communities have been left deeply shocked following the tragic death of a young mother who died after falling overboard from a boat during an Easter break with her family.

The woman, named as 35-year-old Luna McKinney, was holidaying in Co Fermanagh with her husband, Stephen, and two children, when the tragedy unfolded in the early hours of Thursday.

The accident happened just shortly after 1am near Devenish Island on Lough Erne where the cruiser vessel the couple had hired had been moored. It is believed Mrs McKinney, who is originally from China, slipped as she was checking the mooring ropes.

The couple's two children, aged 13 and 11, were asleep on board. Police said a devastated Mr McKinney, who is originally from Strabane, made valiant efforts to rescue his wife but could not locate her in the darkness.

He then alerted the emergency services and a rescue operation was launched. Her body was recovered 45 minutes later at around 2am. Mr McKinney was treated for shock following the accident.

PSNI Chief Inspector, Clive Beatty, said that rescue services had battled to save the life of the young mother.

"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 the way to the hospital but unfortunately she died a short time after arrival."

He added: "It's a terrible tragedy for the family...It was a difficult operation because of the emotion and circumstances involved."

Neighbours and relatives have been rallying around the family as they try to come to terms with the tragedy.

Mr McKinney and his family, including his father Frank and mother Gabrielle, are well-known and highly respected within the Strabane community.

The couple had lived in China for three years before returning to the town in recent times before moving to Convoy in Donegal where they set up home in the Flax Fields estate.

Melmount parish priest, Rev Michael Doherty, knows the family well and said the community had been shocked by the tragedy.

The priest who baptised the couple's two children added: "Stephen and his parents Frank and Gabrielle McKinney are very well-known and well-respected members of the community in Strabane.

"The community here will give them support and sympathy as they come to terms with the tragic loss."

Donegal Sinn Féin councillor Liam Doherty, who lives in the same village where the McKinney's had set up home, said there was a deep shock and sadness within the East Donegal community.

Extending his sympathies to the family, he added: "The local people here, and the local shop owners who knew Luna and her husband Stephen, just couldn't believe it. Stephen is bearing up well but it's very tough on him."

Among others to offer their condolences to the family were Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP., Tom Elliott, and Arlene Foster.

The DUP leader said it was "heartbreaking news" for the area and extended her sympathies.

"The death of a young life will come as an immense shock to this area and in particular the woman's family," she said.

It's understood that funeral arrangements for Mrs McKinney are being deferred to allow family members to travel from China. At the time of going to press yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) it remained unclear when the service would take place.

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