Belfast Telegraph

Boy (5) dies in hospital after being pulled out of Ballymena river

The boy had been airlifted to hospital in Belfast following the rescue operation

A boy, who was swept more than four miles down a fast-flowing river in Northern Ireland before being pulled out by rescue teams, has died in hospital.

A major search operation was launched after the child, aged five, fell into the Braid River near Skye Park in Ballymena, Co Antrim, at around 1pm on Saturday.

He was rescued more than 45 minutes later near Tullaghgarley and immediately airlifted to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, the Community Rescue Service said.

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A search operation in Ballymena, County Antrim. Credit: PACEMAKER BELFAST

Sean McCarry, regional commander of the organisation, said teams had worked closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), fire service and air ambulance during the multi-agency response.

Mr McCarry said emergency services were alerted at around 1pm after the boy entered the river near the Ecos Centre.

He said: “He got swept away quite fast with it, he was travelling quite a distance.

“He was doing a mile in under 15 minutes.”

Mr McCarry said rescuers were “running desperately” after the boy, while a police helicopter observed from above and reported any sightings.

“The police were co-coordinating and telling us where we needed to go to next and we were just trying to get ahead of him in the river,” he said.

“Eventually that happened and he was pulled out of the river and put into the air ambulance.”

The boy spent more than 45 minutes in the water and travelled a minimum of four miles down the river, Mr McCarry said.

“Our thoughts go out to the family," he added.

PSNI Inspector Shaf Ali said: "I would like to thank everyone involved in the search effort and extend my sincerest condolences to the family at this time."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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