Family urge children to avoid river after teenager drowns saving friend

A TEENAGE boy has drowned trying to rescue his friend who had fallen in a river as they played.

• Declan Shanley died trying to save a friend

And yesterday the family of Declan Shanley pleaded for others to avoid the River Kelvin in Glasgow and prevent a similar tragedy.

The 13-year-old schoolboy died on Saturday evening while out with friends.

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He was not a strong swimmer and was swept away by currents although his friends managed to pull themselves up the river bank.

Emergency services were alerted shortly before 7pm and an extensive search and rescue operation was mounted along the river, involving police officers, the Strathclyde Police's helicopter and Strathclyde Fire and Rescue.

Declan's body was pulled from the river by a police diver just before 8:30pm and he was taken by ambulance to Glasgow's Western Infirmary but was found to be dead on arrival. He was due to turn 14 on Wednesday.

In a statement left on the online tribute site Gone Too Soon, the family wrote of Declan's "sudden death by drowning".

"He is at peace noww he was ah much loved son, brother, cuzzin, nephew, grandson and also ah best friend too lots of people," they said.

"He will be sadly missed buh in our hearts forever. Declan we all love and miss u so much."

Chief Inspector Grahame Clarke, area commander for the Maryhill area, said the family were "beside themselves" with grief and pleaded for residents to avoid the river so no other family would be subjected to the torment.

He said: "I know how devastated the family are. Their wee boy who went out to play is not coming back. He was a young boy with the rest of his life ahead of him. They can take some comfort that he tried to rescue a friend. He entered the water to save his friend which was an incredibly brave thing to do. It was a heroic act but with the most tragic of outcomes.

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"Declan's family want to get the message to all the children to please stay out of the water. They are desperate that no other family go through what they are going through."

About 6:30pm on Saturday, Declan, of Craigbo Street, Summerston, Glasgow, was playing with some friends at on the banks of the River Kelvin, near to the West of Scotland Science Park (Kelvin Campus), Maryhill Road, on a sandy area known locally as "the beach".

Although shallow at the shore, at about 8-10ft out it drops suddenly to 25 feet deep. One of the group fell into the water and Declan and another friend jumped in to try and rescue the girl. But the schoolboy was swept away by the current.

Friends left flowers and messages at a tree next to the spot where the accident happened.

Celtic-fan Declan lived with his mother Elaine, brother Kieran, 17, and sister Shannon, 15. Yesterday, Kieran wore a Celtic shirt with the words "Declan 1 Million" printed on the back. He said he was "a great brother and a great guy".

Charlie Tierney, 41, Declan's uncle, said: "

They were playing in the water and got into trouble. The water was taking them away and there has been a bit of a struggle between them as they were all trying to save each other.

"Declan managed to help a girl who he was with and thankfully she is all right. It just seems like a tragic accident."

Declan's cousin, Paddy Burke, 17, said:

"I came down here and the police had the area taped off and I couldn't get to the river. I just couldn't believe it. Declan was a lovely boy who never had a bad word to say about anybody and nobody had a bad word to say about him.

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"I know he wasn't a strong swimmer and I think he's got into trouble in the water."

Last night the headteacher of Declan's school, John Paul Academy, where all the children from Saturday's incident were pupils, said:

"I know everyone at the school will be shocked and saddened by this tragic news.

"Declan was a lovely boy – popular and full of life – who will be very sadly missed by all who knew him.

"Our thoughts and prayers are obviously very much with his family and friends at this time and we shall be supporting them in any we can."