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Inquest told of 'heroic efforts' to save mother-of-three Unagh Gallogly at Lough Erne

Coroner praises would-be rescuers


Tragic: Co Tyrone woman Unagh Gallogly

Tragic: Co Tyrone woman Unagh Gallogly

Tragic: Co Tyrone woman Unagh Gallogly

People who helped recover a woman from Lough Erne after her car went into the water "acted no less than heroically", a coroner has said.

Joe McCrisken also praised three PSNI officers, RNLI volunteer Stephen Ingram and a member of the public, later identified as Alister McCammon, for the assistance they gave in recovering mother of three Unagh Gallogly (55) from the water at Muckcross in Co Fermanagh.

Sadly their efforts were in vain and Mrs Gallogly, a care assistant from Drumquin in Co Tyrone, passed away the following morning, June 16 2019, at South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) in Enniskillen.

Mr McCrisken found that Mrs Gallogly's death was suicide by fresh water drowning which caused swelling of the brain caused by a lack of oxygen and multi-organ failure.

He told her husband Michael and brother John, present in court, that he recognised the "very great shock" that Mrs Gallogly's death had been for them and the family "clearly continue to be deeply affected by this".

The inquest into Mrs Gallogly's death, sitting at Omagh courthouse, heard that a member of the public, Alan Beacom, noticed Mrs Gallogly's car enter the water from the slipway and raised the alarm.

Among the emergency services who were first at the scene were two PSNI constables.

In a statement, one of the constables recalled swimming 20 metres out to the car, quickly followed by a second constable, and attempted to get into it through the back passenger door but failed because of the water pressure.

The first constable explained that after the car boot had popped open he was able to open the door and get inside the car but visibility was poor as it was after 10.30pm.

He said: "I continued to dive under the water and could feel a body behind the driver's seat. I then spotted a boat nearby which I flagged down for assistance."

The officer said he wanted to get Mrs Gallogly's car closer to the shore so he could make sure no one else was inside.

His statement outlined how the boat owner, Mr McCammon, also entered the water and swam to where he was positioned at the driver's door.

The constable added: "I, along with the member of the public, made efforts to pull the body through the window which initially we were unable to do because it was stuck."

The constable asked a PSNI inspector who was also in the water to get a knife to cut the seatbelt and free Mrs Gallogly.

The inquest also heard how Mr Ingram, a volunteer with the RNLI, attended the scene and also made his way over to Mrs Gallogly's car and with the assistance of the inspector secured straps around the vehicle so it could be taken to the shore.

Concluding the inquest, Mr McCrisken said that in his view the three police officers and Mr Ingram "acted no less than heroically". He added: "I was really struck, when I read through the statements, that the three police officers had put themselves in danger when they entered the water to try and rescue Mrs Gallogly as did Mr Ingram.

"The outcome was a tragedy but the officers didn't know that then. I really think what was done was remarkable."

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact the Samaritans on 116 123, or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

Belfast Telegraph