Belfast Telegraph

Coroner: Honour rescue bid father

A father of two who died in a vain bid to save a drowning boy in a disused quarry should be recognised with a posthumous bravery award, a coroner has recommended.

Local government worker Colin Polland, 39, who was originally from Co Down but lived in Ilford, Essex, drowned after jumping into the remote water hole near the Northern Ireland coast in a effort to save 15-year-old Kevin O'Hare, from Dromara, Co Down.

An inquest into the two deaths heard how his widow Adele Polland swam out into the cold water when her husband disappeared below the surface but was unable to get deep enough to reach him. Mrs Polland said she was forced to swim back to land because the coldness was starting to overcome her.

"I made a decision that I did not want my children to lose two parents," she stated.

At the hearing into June's tragedy near the Co Down seaside village of Annalong, Northern Ireland's Senior Coroner John Leckey praised the actions of Mr and Mrs Polland, who had been visiting a nearby cottage when they responded to calls for help, and of two police officers who also entered the water at Paul's Quarry to try to save the victims.

"Colin Polland lost his life heroically trying to save the life of Kevin O'Hare," said Mr Leckey.

"I would recommend that his bravery is recognised posthumously in some way."

Mr Leckey said he would also write to Stormont's Minister for the Environment Mark H Durkan, Newry and Mourne District Council and the owner of the quarry to see what action could be taken to improve safety, as he was concerned of the potential for another drowning tragedy.

The coroner's court in Belfast earlier witnessed emotional scenes as Kevin's mother Donna Marie challenged his cousin to explain why he had taken him up to the quarry on the day of the incident, when she understood they were only going to the holiday town of Newcastle.

Kevin, his 17-year-old brother Liam, and Mr McGrillen, 24 - the boys' second cousin - drove up to the secluded quarry after spending what was a sunny afternoon in nearby Newcastle playing pool, visiting amusement arcades and eating ice cream. Mr McGrillen told the court that he and Kevin, a pupil at St Malachy's High School in Castlewellan, Co Down, decided to go for a swim on the spur of the moment, with Liam opting out because he could not swim.

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