Still no lifebelts on river a year on after Sion Mills tragedy

A coroner has called for an investigation into life belt provision along the River Mourne, following the death of a young Sion Mills man last year.

Coroner John Lecky made the call during an inquest into the death of 21 year-old Dale Alexander  at The Weir, Sion Mills on June 1 2009.

His parents Malcolm and Donna joined family and friends at Strabane Court  to hear coroner John Lecky give his ruling into the tragedy.

The court was told that on the afternoon of June 1 last year shortly before 4pm, Dale Alexander had gone to The Weir at Sion Mills with friends for a picnic.

He and friend, Martin McGhee, decided to go for a swim. A short time after the men jumped into the water however, Mr Alexander got into difficulties.

Despite desperate attempts by Mr McGhee and another as yet unidentified man to save the 21-year-old chef, Dale Alexander drowned.

The coroner’s court yesterday heard from several witnesses including Mr Alexander’s mother, girlfriend and Mr McGhee.

Investigations into the absence of life belts at The Weir were launched immediately after the tragedy however it is as yet unclear who holds responsibility for providing the equipment.

An emotional Donna Alexander, Dale's mother, told the court added that the fact that eight months on, still no life belts were in place at the spot where her son perished provided a great sense of annoyance to her family.