A 10-year-old boy fighting for his life after being pulled from a Co Down river has died.
The boy, named locally as Daniel Andre, had been swimming at a stretch of the River Bann at Leitrim Road in Hilltown yesterday with friends when he got into difficulties at around 4.50pm.
It is understood some friends attempted to save him.
But it is believed he was under the water for up to 20 minutes before being pulled free by Fire and Rescue Service officers.
He was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry in a critical condition where medical staff battled to stabilise him.
He was then transferred last night to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children where he later died.
His parents Antonio and Donna Andre had been keeping a vigil at his bedside.
The young boy also had a 15-year-old sister and a younger sister.
Speaking last night, his teenage sister Lauren said that the family had hoped that he would pull through.
“I was babysitting my wee sister and we were playing outside and then the lady that lives there came up and said she had bad news.
“At first I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I was shocked, you don’t expect that kind of thing to happen to your own family.”
Lauren said she thought he would only go to the river on a good day but was very active and loved sport.
“He loved coming out for the craic, and he loved football, he just started hurley,” she added.
He loved being involved in things and participating in things.”
She said that they had been receiving a lot of support from family and friends.
“Everybody is there, we are just sticking together that is the only thing that will help everybody.”
Daniel, a pupil at St Patrick’s Primary School in Hilltown was also a member of Clonduff GAC.
The vice principal of St Patrick’s, Kathleen Cousins said the school was finding it difficult to come to terms with the news.
“We are all just deeply in shock today,” she said. “Daniel was a beautiful little boy who was always smiling. He loved his sports and being with his friends. He will be sadly missed by us all throughout the school—by everyone.
“There are no words to express how we feel today.”
Mr and Mrs Andre are both well known in the area.
Mr Andre, who is originally from Portugal, but moved to Northern Ireland over 20 years ago, works in a local restaurant in Rathfriland. It is understood Mrs Andre also works at the same restaurant.
Local Green Party councillor Ciaran Mussen, said the people were left shocked by the “devastating news”. A Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) spokesperson last night said: “At 1645 hours, NIFRS were alerted to an incident at Hilltown, involving a child having fallen into the water.
“In conjunction with other emergency services, we responded to the scene and helped to rescue a child who was subsequently taken to hospital by ambulance.