Belfast Telegraph

Trolls target mum of tragic Northern Ireland boy Kayden Fleck

Leanne Fleck called for new safety measures around the River Braid

by Gareth Cross

The mother of Kayden Fleck has revealed she was targeted with online abuse in the days following her five-year-old son's tragic death.

Fleck was speaking on the BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show on Thursday.

Kayden Fleck was out playing with twin brother Jayden when he fell into the River Braid near the Ecos Centre in Ballymena on Saturday, February 10.

After a major search and rescue operation he was pulled from the water around two hours later near the Tullygarley Bridge.

Leanne Fleck was appearing on the Nolan Show to call on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council to increase safety precautions around the River Braid following Kayden's death.

She told the show how she was coping in the aftermath of Kayden's death.

"Hanging on, muddling through for the rest of the children. It's very difficult, you take each day as it comes and you live every day on a heartbeat wondering if something like this will ever happen to our family again," she said.

"On that day we were moving house and went to our old house to gather a few things and the boys were out the back and the next thing they disappeared and somehow they managed to wander over to the Ecos Centre.

"We started looking at them thinking they were in the nearby play park, when we realised they weren't there we continued to look, frantically.

"Their daddy Darrel saw Jayden running from the river soaked and we knew then that something terrible had happened, Jayden took him round by the ducks and told him Kayden had fallen into the river.

Mrs Fleck revealed why she had started the campaign for safety measures.

"To try and raise awareness because of the fact the housing estate is so close to the river and there's not that much gates or safety measures in place to prevent other children from wandering off into the Ecos on their own," she explained.

"I know they probably won't be able to fence the river because it's a nature walk, the paths are quite open but there is no gates or anything to prevent children from going into the area on their own. It's just for the council to have a look at it and see if they can put up some kind of higher fencing or gates around the area.

"Something terrible like this has happened, a life is lost and I know it's nobodies fault but there should be something that can be done.

"I don't want to see this happening to any other family.

She also revealed that Kayden's twin brother Jayden had attempted to save him after he entered the water.

"Jayden knows his brother has gone, he knows he's in his grave, he's not saying much but he understands that he's gone and he's not coming back. We've said that God needed an angel and that he took Kayden to be one of his angels.

"Jayden said that he went into the water to try and get him but all he could get was the tips of his fingers and he floated away."

Mrs Fleck revealed she had read nasty comments online in the days after Kayden's death.

"We have had alot of nasty comments through Facebook. When this all happened, the first couple of days after we lost Kayden people on social media were very nasty, asking 'where was the parents?' and 'How did two five-year-olds get to the river by themselves?' and everything else.

"That's why I want to get the story out to let people know something like this can happen to anyone. Just to show what kind of family we are and what kind of a wee boy Kayden was, he was just your average five-year-old happy go lucky wee boy.

She said that Kayden was born with a congenital heart defect.

"They don't know us (the trolls), they should think before they speak. That's my response to that," she said.

"You don't say anything nasty to people unless you know the ins and outs of what has happened. Those people who commented on the news reports etc. they don't know us or what kind of family we are or what we went through with Kayden.

"They don't have a right to voice their opinion."

A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said an investigation into the incident was ongoing.

“Our sympathies are with the family and friends of Kayden Fleck. Investigations into this tragic incident are ongoing," the spokesperson said.

"Council is continuing to work with the Health and Safety Executive of Northern Ireland and has commissioned RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) to carry out a full water safety review.

"Once this is completed, Council will carry out its recommendations. Council is willing to meet the family to discuss their concerns.”

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