Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland mum's anguish at losing son and unborn grandchild

By Rebecca Black and Cate McCurry

A Co Antrim mother has spoken of her heartache after her 23-year-old son lost his life on the same day she found out her unborn grandchild had died.

Barbara Murray yesterday urged people to respect the dangers of water after her son Connor fell into a fast-flowing river last Friday.

The Larne woman's agony was compounded when she found out her daughter had lost her unborn child as her son fought for life in hospital.

Ms Murray said last night that she wanted to speak out about water safety in a bid to prevent any other family going through what her's was suffering.

"If Connor's death helps prevent even one young person going into the water without thinking of the possible consequences, his death will not have been in vain," she said.

"If it makes one person think before they launch themselves into what looks like great fun, but ends in tragedy...

"It has affected so many people, from those who rescued him, the fire brigade, ambulance crews. I know how hard they fought to save my son's life."

The former Larne Grammar pupil had been walking along the Inver River with friends when a "daredevil stunt" went wrong.

His pals rushed to his aid but the current was too strong. They pulled him from the water some distance away but he died days later in hospital.

It came just eight months after he was subjected to a brutal attack in Larne.

Ms Murray described her son (left, with his nephew) as a "beautiful, thoughtful, kind, loving, brave and adored boy", but added that he was impulsive.

"He lived his life by the seat of his pants," she said.

"Connor was an awful daredevil, saw the danger in nothing. You never knew what he was going to do next. He didn't know the water was as deep as it was. There is a bit known as the Salmon Leap - he thought he could go from step to step and get to the other side.

"But he missed his footing, slipped, went in and the undercurrent pulled him under despite the efforts of his friends Jamie and Josh. They managed to get him above the water before the fire brigade arrived."

She, daughter Lauren and wider family sat with him in hospital as doctors fought to save him.

Then, on Wednesday, Lauren learned she had miscarried.

She had been around three months pregnant with her second child.

Just hours later Connor passed away.

Ms Murray described her family's ordeal as a "living hell", but added it was some comfort to think they were together. "It's been such a comfort to us all that he would not be on his own. He was so excited about becoming an uncle again," she said.

She also appealed to people to let their loved ones know if they are on the Organ Donor Register.

Connor had signed up to donate some of his organs but due to confusion over the options he had ticked, his family was left having an agonising discussion as he remained critically ill.

"I'd urge anyone to discuss it with their loved ones so they know what they wanted," she said.

Connor's funeral is expected to take place next Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph

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