Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian passed away after getting into difficulty on August 29, 2022, in Strathfoyle.
Coroner Anne-Louise Toal expressed her “personal condolences” on what she described as an “absolute tragedy”.
She said both boys disappeared beneath the surface a short distance from the jetty where they were later found by emergency services.
Reuven was located around 30 minutes after he got into difficulty and “tragically all attempts at resuscitation failed”.
He was declared dead at Altnagelvin Hospital at around 8.15pm.
Tragically, Joseph died at the scene. His body was recovered at 3.8m depth, “only four metres from the jetty”, having been found shortly after 9pm. He was pronounced deceased at 11.58pm.
“The post-mortem report confirms and I find that the cause of death for both Reuven and Joseph was 1A drowning,” Coroner Toal said.
“This tragedy serves to highlight the dangers associated with open water swimming. Such dangers apply to both young and old, and can affect both novice and experienced swimmers. As a coroner, this is sadly the second inquest into such a death of a young person in as many years.”
She urged all those who wish to partake in open water swimmingto heed the advice of Foyle Search and Rescue personnel and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service at this inquest.
Coroner Toal added that it is “clear” the boys were only a number of metres from the shore when they got into difficulty, and despite the “valiant efforts of their friends” and rescue agencies, their lives were “unable to be saved”.
The families of Reuven and Joseph were praised for their efforts in raising awareness and the “proactive nature” of the response by the council to improve water safety. All councils were urged to look at this as a template.
Coroner Toal believes there is a role for wider education given the “noticeable increase” in open water swimming.
On the opening day of the inquest, the boys’ friends relived the tragedy as they explained how the group met on a sunny day before cycling to the area for a swim, unaware of the dangers the watercourse presented.
They spoke of the water getting deep very quickly and how they “held hands”, forming a human chain, in a bid to help Joseph.
Reuven then drowned as he swam further out to rescue Joseph.
Friends stayed in the water in a desperate bid to help and had to be coaxed out by members of the public who were passing by.
On Tuesday, Mark Deeney, assistant chief fire and rescue officer, who was western area commander when the incident unfolded, commended the boys for their bravery.
He said it was a challenging environment for trained personnel, adding: “I don’t think there’s anything else they could have done to rescue their friends.”Tags: