Mum's anger as life-saving ring vandalised where son drowned
A Co Antrim woman whose five-year-old son tragically died earlier this year after falling into a river in Ballymena has slammed the vandals who interfered with life-saving equipment close to the scene.
Vandals are being blamed for throwing a life-saving ring into a lake at Ballymena's Ecos Park, just metres from where Kayden Fleck entered the River Braid.
A major search operation swung into place Kayden fell into the water in February, but he was swept several miles downstream. The little boy was airlifted to hospital in Belfast but later died.
In recent days a life-saving ring, one of a number dotted around the park lake, was tossed into the water.
Kayden's mother Leanne said: "It is a disgrace. The life-saving rings are there for a reason.
"Why would people want to touch them? They are not toys.
"This is awful and it is disappointing that people can't leave them alone, it annoys you."
Leanne said she still feels uneasy near the Braid because of the bad memories from February.
"I don't really like going down that way at all," she said. "I don't like walking past rivers."
Leanne said she gets heart palpitations when the family drives past the local Sainsbury's, which goes over the waterway.
"It brings it all back," she said.
Leanne is still campaigning for safety improvements to be made at the river.
Park-users expressed their shock at seeing the life-saving device in the water.
One said: "When I noticed this has happened I immediately thought to myself, 'Why would somebody do such a thing?' It is concerning that people would throw this away as it could help save a life.
"When you think of the recent tragedy at the river it is even more worrying that somebody would do this."
Councillor Timothy Gaston said: "I am shocked and saddened to learn that someone has recklessly thrown the life-saving ring at the Ecos into the water. I urge whoever threw the ring into the water to wake up and think of the consequences that could have followed because of their actions".