Belfast family’s grief for son drowned in Australian Outback accident
The family of a 27-year-old man from Belfast who drowned in a watering hole at an Australian beauty spot are trying to get his body flown home from Darwin.
Tony Norney, from Poleglass, had been living and working in Australia for a number of years.
He had gone with a party of 20 backpackers to Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory at the weekend.
On Saturday evening, Northern Territory time, he had gone into a billabong or waterhole at Malabanjbanjdju and swam out 20 metres when he got into difficulties.
Swimming in the area is notoriously dangerous because of crocodiles. Tony was the only one of the group who went into the water because the others were afraid of the crocodiles, according to local police.
However, a police spokeswoman said there was no evidence a crocodile was involved and there were no injuries on the body.
Police and park rangers searched for the man for three hours and eventually found him.
Mr Norney’s body has been transported to the morgue in Darwin.
The family lived in Poleglass until last year when they moved to the Lagmore estate.
Rev Vincent Cushnahan, from the Parish of the Nativity in Poleglass, said his death had shocked the family and community.
“Tony would have been well-known in the community and especially among young people,” Rev Cushnahan said.
“There is a profound sense of shock and disbelief that someone so filled with energy should have their life cut short, especially so far away. I understand the family are focusing on getting his body home.”
The 27-year-old had gone out to Australia with three friends several years ago to live and work in the country.
Sinn Fein councillor in west Belfast Angela Nelson described the loss as “a terrible tragedy”.
“I understand his father is working towards bringing his body home which could turn out to be a very expensive business,” she said. “I would just like to pass on my condolences to the family.”
Friends’ social networking sites showed Mr Norney and his pals relaxing on a sun-soaked beach, one wearing a red Santa hat.