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My baby died doing what he loved best: Tyrone mum's tribute to son killed in Canadian lake

Friends raise £26,000 to repatriate Omagh man's body after diving accident

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Always smiling: Lee Cooke believed in living life to the full, said his mother Carmel

Always smiling: Lee Cooke believed in living life to the full, said his mother Carmel

Always smiling: Lee Cooke believed in living life to the full, said his mother Carmel

The heartbroken mother of a Co Tyrone man who was killed in a diving accident abroad has told how he had shown her the place he would later die "doing what he loved best".

Carpenter Lee Cooke lost his life when he became trapped under water after jumping into a lake at a popular beauty spot in Vancouver, Canada, last week, despite attempts by emergency services to save him.

A fundraising initiative set up by the 33-year-old Omagh man's friends to repatriate his body had exceeded £26,000 in just four days.

Mr Cooke's mum Carmel said that he believed in making the most of life.

"Lee always said to me that if you can't live life to the full as much as possible, then what's the point of being here," she said.

"Four years ago when I visited him in Canada he showed me the cliff and he had jumped off it before.

"This is just a freak and tragic accident and we're all so devastated that he has gone from us."

Describing her son as "brilliant and popular", she told the Tyrone Constitution that "my baby died doing what he loved best".

"He had no fear of heights and was always very active, running, swimming and cycling," she said.

"He was involved in the Irish community and football over there and was very popular with everyone he met.

"Lee was just brilliant and amazing to have, so calm and someone who never seemed to get cross or be in bad form.

"He was always smiling, and I remember he always walked up the middle of the road to get speaking to people.

"His friends have been really supportive since this happened. Everyone who knew him is just devastated by what happened.

"I wasn't able to go over and see him because of Covid-19, but he'd been planning to come home for Christmas because he's never been here for the festivities and always got homesick at that time of year."

West Tyrone Sinn Fein MLA Catherine Kelly paid tribute to the Omagh Integrated College past pupil on Twitter.

"Devastated by the tragic death of my old friend Lee Cooke in Canada," she said.

"His infectious smile lit up every room. My thoughts and condolences to his family at this sad time."

Fermanagh and Western League club Strathroy Harps paid its respects to Mr Cooke on Facebook.

"Everyone involved with both Strathroy Harps and our community are absolutely devastated at the sudden death of Lee Cooke," it said.

"Lee was well-known to most of our members and will be sadly missed by all."

Vancouver Harps FC posted: "It is with a heavy heart we say goodbye to one of our longest serving players Lee Cooke.

"The definition of a utility man, always playing wherever needed for over 12 years.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends at home. His family and the community here in Vancouver will miss him deeply."

The Kevin Bell Trust is helping Mr Cooke's family and Canadian authorities to bring him back home this week or early next week.

Belfast Telegraph