Northern Ireland news

Rescuers describe desperate attempts to save life of former UTV presenter Brian Black after car entered water at Strangford harbour

Former UTV presenter Brian Black
Marie Louise McConville

RESCUERS have described desperate attempts to save the life of former UTV presenter Brian Black after his car entered the water in Strangford harbour.

Warm tributes have been paid to the broadcaster who died after his vehicle rolled off a quay and into the lough yesterday morning.

Mr Black, who was in his seventies, was a familiar face on UTV - initially on the award-winning current affairs programme Counterpoint, and then as an environmental correspondent.

The father-of-two, who lived in the Strangford area, later worked as a TV producer.

Emergency services, including the Air Ambulance, were called at around 11.30am after witnesses saw the car roll backwards and plunge into the lough, landing upside down.

Residents ran to the scene and used a hammer to smash a window of the vehicle before holding Mr Black's head above water.

Dave Williams, who lives in Strangford and who is pictured with his son, was among those who jumped in the water to help rescue the trapped driver

A forklift truck was also used to lift up the car, allowing rescuers to pull the broadcaster from the car.

Dave Williams, who lives in Strangford, said he went to the scene after his 11-year-old son told him a car had entered the water.

"I went down and the car was upside down," he said.

"One guy had jumped in from the ferry service. I jumped in and tried to open the doors but it wasn't deep enough. The electrics had gone.

Emergency Services respond to a major incident after a vehicle enter the waters of Strangford lough this afternoon: Credit Conor Kinahan/PACEMAKER PRESS.

"I said `Get a rope on the tow bar, pull the car up so we can get his head out of the water'. They pulled the car up and on to its side so I managed to pull him up and get his head from underneath the water. There was a slight pulse.

"We tried to pull him out. The RNLI turned up and they jumped in and then the Coastguard turned up and then the Fire Brigade turned up."

Mr Williams said Mr Black's foot was trapped and so a forklift had to be used to lift the car to free him, adding that there had been a "good bunch of people helping".

CPR was performed on the quayside before he was taken by ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he later died.

Former UTV presenter Gerry Kelly last night said he was "devastated" to learn of the death of his colleague, whose wife, Lesley, died last September.

Political editor Ken Reid said: "He was a special man, great communicator with a special passion for improving our environment. The UTV family is in a state of shock at the loss."

Former presenter Lynda Bryans also remembered him as a "gentleman", while former UTV managing director Michael Wilson said he was a "superb journalist, programme maker and environmental champion".

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