THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Police constable is among drowning tragedies across province

From the News Letter, June 19, 1932

Friday, 19th June 2020, 6:00 am
At Castlerock in Co Londonderry RUC Constable John Ferguson had lost his life while bathing at a dangerous spot. Ferguson, who was a well known footballer, was survived by his widow and seven children in June 1932
At Castlerock in Co Londonderry RUC Constable John Ferguson had lost his life while bathing at a dangerous spot. Ferguson, who was a well known footballer, was survived by his widow and seven children in June 1932

The News Letter on this day in 1932 reported that there had been several drowning accidents around Northern Ireland during the weekend which had passed.

At Castlerock in Co Londonderry RUC Constable John Ferguson had lost his life while bathing at “a dangerous spot”. Ferguson, who was a well known footballer, was survived by his widow and seven children.

An inquest into Constable Ferguson heard that he had been a good swimmer but that he had got into difficulties and had disappeared in front of another gentleman who he had been swimming with who had been unable to reach him in time.

The other man was named Alexander McCord Jnr who told the inquest how he had seen his friend in difficulties but after he had disappeared he had returned to the shore to raise the alarm.

Constable Ferguson’s body had been recovered from the water 20 minutes after he had gone missing by another police officer and that despite efforts at artificial respiration he never regained consciousness.

One of the jury members, Mr J McCulloch, who had experienced the conditions at the same spot area, remarked: “The spot is one of the most dangerous in the North of Ireland and there are no warning notices. I was nearly carried out there on one occasion myself, and I am a strong swimmer.”

The coroner said that it had been unfortunate that a “young and promising” life like that of Constable Ferguson, who he remarked had been “a highly-esteemed and efficient” constable of the RUC had been lost in the waters.

He recommended that “some notice” should be given by the authorities that bathing at that strand was “really courting death”.

A verdict of accidental death was returned. In Fermanagh there had been another drowning fatality, it occurred in the river at Tullyreagh when Thomas McGaurran, a watchmaker aged 25, from Brookeborough.

The News Letter reported that the deceased man and his brother had gone for a “dip” in the river but after a short time he had gone into difficulties and disappeared under the water.

Meanwhile, in Tyrone William McCullough from Newtownstewart had drowned in the River Glenelly about half-a-mile from Tyrone village.