Belfast Telegraph

Monday 14 July 2014

Service is held in memory of river tragedy teenager

Clive Elliott is comforted by police after visiting the place where his son James disappeared

An emotional vigil was held at the weekend for teenager James Elliott who died trying to save a dog in a Co Antrim river.

An emotional vigil was held at the weekend for teenager James Elliott who died trying to save a dog in a Co Antrim river.

Around 200 family members, friends and rescue workers gathered on Saturday by the River Bush in Stranocum, where the 14 year-old died, to pay their respects.

James’s heartbroken mother Margaret took the opportunity during the vigil to thank rescue workers for their help recovering her son’s body from the river.

The Dalriada Grammar School pupil was swept away in the swollen river at around 3pm on Thursday. He had been out walking along the river at Stranocum with a teenage friend when he tried to assist a Labrador dog that appeared to be in difficulties in the river.

He went into the river to try to help the animal but then got into difficulties himself. His friend tried to assist James.

The boy was rescued as was the dog.

The missing boy’s father Clive and a friend were quickly on the scene but were unable to rescue him from the river.

James’s body was recovered at 2pm on Saturday at a bridge between Dervock and Stranocum after a major search operation involving the Coastguard, Bann River Rescue, RAF, Royal Navy, Fire and Rescue Service, police search teams and the police helicopter.

Dozens of friends and relatives had also taken part in the search.

James has been described by his father as a “loving young fella”.

“He is a loving young fella, a very kind kid,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

Tom Skelton, James’s headmaster at Dalriada Grammar, said: “I was devastated when I heard about it. As a parent myself I try to empathise with what it’s like but it’s your worst fear.”

James was a talented footballer within the youth ranks of Irish league side, Linfield.

Head coach of Linfield academy David Chisholm described the budding star as an “absolute pleasure” to work with.

The teenager, who represented Linfield at this year's Foyle Cup, had been due to travel with his under-14 teammates over the weekend to a competition in the Republic, but it was called off by club officials as a mark of respect.

A post mortem examination is expected to be carried out before the boy’s body could be returned to the family.

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