Northern Ireland

Man questioned over River Bann death in Kilrea

Search volunteers in boats
Image caption A search of the River Bann started for the man on Saturday

Police have been given an extra 36 hours to question a 26-year-old man after a Ballymena man drowned in the River Bann at the weekend.

The man who died was Owen McKeown, 21, from the Dunclug estate.

An eyewitness saw him going into the water close to the Bann Road bridge in Kilrea at about 18:00 BST on Saturday. His body was found on Sunday.

Two other men, aged 25 and 30, have been released pending further enquiries.

Rescue teams began searching for the man on Saturday night and about 50 volunteers got involved.

On Sunday, small boats were launched on the river as the hunt for the man continued.

Parish priest Father Paddy Delargy visited the McKeown family on Sunday night.

"They are in a state of shock and grief and they're coming to terms with what has been a great tragedy," Fr Delargy said.

"They're not exactly sure of the circumstances that led to the death of their son."

Shock

Sean McCarry from the Community Rescue Service said the alarm had been raised by canoeists who saw the man struggling in the water.

Mr McCarry said that he understood that an attempt had been made to rescue the man, but it failed.

"Somebody tried to help him but had to go back to the bank," he said.

Sinn Fein's Daithi McKay said the community in the Bann Valley area were "in shock" over the death and added it was a "sad reminder of how dangerous the River Bann is".

He paid tribute to the emergency services and volunteers involved in the recovery operation.

The North Antrim MLA said: "This incident, whatever the circumstances, is a tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the young man who sadly lost his life."

He added: "There still is a lack of clarity as to what happened in this case and anyone who has information relating to this incident should bring that forward."

Police have appealed for witnesses to contact them.

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