A Tullyally teenager who drowned after jumping into a river to escape the PSNI would have been hit by a force of water equivalent to the force of a 12 tonne lorry, an inquest into the death of 15 years old Kyle Bonnes heard yesterday.
The 15 year old schoolboy died after he drowned in the River Faughan on April 7, 2010 after being pursued by the police who were investigating claims the teen had exposed him at the Faughan Valley playing fields that afternoon.
An expert from the Rivers Agency told the Inquest, which is expected to conclude today at Magherafelt courthouse, that the river was particularly fast flowing following three days of heavy rain and even the “most able bodied of people would have struggled to cross it”.
He added that the water would have been “very cold” - at just four or five degrees.
The Coroner’s Court had previously heard how Kyle had appeared to be heavily intoxicated before the incident, having consumed a share of a ‘10 glass’ bottle of vodka over the course of the afternoon.
Two witnesses, whose names were held back from the court, provided statements to say they had seen Kyle and a friend behaving as if they were “out of their heads” at around 5pm on the day in question - and described how Kyle was seen to have pulled down his trousers and exposed his buttocks and genitalia.
The witnesses said they made the decision to call the police as the area in which the boys were, was once used by many locals, including families.
As police arrived at the scene, a witness, David King - a friend of Kyle’s who was returning from the chipshop at Drumahoe to the fields, said he saw Kyle and his friend stand up and run from where they were sitting in the direction of the river and that he saw the two police officers begin to give chase.
Mr King said he followed Kyle and the police and by the time he caught up with them Kyle was already in the water and clearly in difficulty,
The court also heard from Robert Brolly, who had been walking with his two young sons at the riverbank at the time Kyle entered the water,
Mr Brolly said he heard police at the scene tell Kyle “Don’t be stupid, come back from there” but that the teen had jumped into the water - at a point in the river known as the “big hole”.
A keen fisherman, Mr Brolly said he knew that particular stretch of water to be treacherous with the flow of the river creating a whirlpool or sinkhole effect which would have dragged the schoolboy under.
Mr Brolly said he witnessed police try to reach the teen holding out a stick for him to reach. He also witnessed a man, Mark Sergeant, enter the water from the opposite bank of the river to try and reach Kyle.
Mr Sergeant, who was also present in court, said he did not think about the danger he was putting himself in and “only wanted to save the lad”. However he said Kyle slipped from his view when he was about 10 or 15 feet from him and, due to the murky conditions of the water, he was unable to locate him.
Two volunteers from Foyle Search and Rescue, who both attended the scene of the incident and helped with the recovery of Kyle’s body, described the conditions at the river as treacherous. Stephen Twells, who entered the water to reach Kyle recalled how the force of the water caused him to lose his footing.
“It was quite terrifying,” he said. “I went under the water and had to gasp for air.”
The inquest continues.