Husband of Donegal woman jumped in and desperately tried to find his wife after she fell overboard from boat on Lough Erne

The boat involved in the tragedy moored at the rear of Devenish Island along with a police boat. Picture by Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker Press

POLICE have told how the husband of a Co Donegal woman jumped in and desperately tried to find his wife after she fell overboard from their boat during a family holiday on Lough Erne.

The woman is understood to be a Chinese national who lived in the Convoy area with her husband and their two children. Her husband is believed to be originally from Strabane in Co Tyrone.

It is believed she had gone to check the ropes to make sure the boat was secured to the jetty before going to bed, but slipped and fell into the water.

Her husband is understood to have heard the splash and jumped in to try and save her.

After failing to find her in the dark, he got out and raised the alarm.

The couple's children, aged 11 and 13, were asleep onboard the boat when the tragedy unfolded shortly after 1am. It is believed the woman, aged in her 30s, may not have been wearing a life jacket.

After the emergency call was received, two ambulances were dispatched as well as fire service, police and coastguard teams.

The woman's body was found around 90 minutes later, just metres from the back of the boat. Attempts to resuscitate her at the dockside and enroute to the hospital where she later died.

The family had been enjoying a short break in Co Fermanagh and had moored their hired boat at Devenish Island, a popular visitor attraction.

PSNI chief inspector Clive Beattie last night said the woman's husband was still in a state of shock.

"He is very, very shocked," told RTÉ's Radio One.

"He is still in a state of shock as we speak and he is being looked after by medical professionals and by his wider family circle."

He added: "They were up on holidays to enjoy the beautiful waterways of Fermanagh but unfortunately it turned into a very tragic event".

Sinn Fein councillor Liam Doherty, who lives in Convoy, said the local community were devastated.

"Talking to local people, they are all completely shocked by the tragedy," he said.

"Many people knew the family to see and are stunned by what has happened. We will help them as much as we can in the coming weeks."

DUP leader Arlene Foster, an MLA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, said it was "heartbreaking news".

"The death of a young life will come as an immense shock to this area and in particular the woman's family," he said.

"Lough Erne and Devenish Island is often pictured as a scene of beauty, but today it is the scene of such tragic circumstances.

"I wish to thank the emergency services and the RNLI who attended the scene. As we enter into the holiday period, I would urge everyone to exercise caution while on the water."

Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott said it was "an absolutely tragic event which has resulted in a young woman sadly losing her life".

"My sympathies go to her entire family, but especially to her husband who I believe tried frantically to save her life, as well as her two children who were asleep at the time on the boat," he said.

"This heart-breaking incident once again illustrates the danger of water. Whilst the lakes in Fermanagh are one of our best assets, they are not without their dangers."


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