My best friend and partner... girlfriend's tribute to bodyboarder drowned in Portrush riptide
The girlfriend of a bodyboarder who drowned after getting in to difficulties close to Portrush has paid tribute to him as "my best friend and partner".
Caroline Herron described the tragic incident that claimed the life of 25-year-old Stephen Pentony from Co Down as a "freak accident bodyboarding/ripcurl" on her Facebook page.
It is understood she was part of a group who were enjoying a weekend of sport at West Bay in the resort when Mr Pentony was caught up in a strong current as the tide was going out.
The Newry man was body-boarding with two other friends when they realised that he was not with them and had been carried out to sea. They reached the shore to ask another friend to raise the alarm.
Coleraine Coastguard and both Portrush lifeboats were tasked to the scene.
He was quickly found and received medical attention from paramedics and lifeboat personnel as soon as he was brought back to shore.
Mr Pentony was then taken by ambulance to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, where he later died.
Just three hours earlier two other men on a jetski got into difficulties at Benone Strand but had managed with some difficulty to make their way to shore. Coleraine Coastguard Station officer Chris Little said: "These incidents show how quickly it is possible to be swept out by the tide or by rip currents."
As news spread of the death friends of Mr Pentony and his girlfriend took to Facebook to pay their respects.
Miss Herron said on her Facebook page: "Freak accident bodyboarding/ripcurl last night claimed the life of my best friend and partner Stephen. Don't know what to do."
Mr Pentony was described as "witty, easygoing and very giving" by Fr Cesare Decio from St Catherine's Church, Newry, where his Requiem Mass was held on Tuesday. The Dominican priest told the packed church: "So Stephen, thank you for having been here with us until now and remember that you've got plenty of siblings, nieces and nephews to look after and to cheer up."
Mr Pentony had worked as a data technician with Northern Ireland Water since December, 2013.
NI Water said in a statement yesterday: "At 25, Stephen had his life in front of him and will be sadly missed by all his colleagues."
Mr Pentony was the son of Kieran and the late Diane Pentony, and is survived by his sister Leigh Jane and brothers Martin, Jamie, Kieran and Anthony.