Family tribute to Bockarie Sonnah

Floral tributes pile up at Torduff Reservoir as friends pay their respects to Bockarie Sonnah. Picture: Greg Macvean
Floral tributes pile up at Torduff Reservoir as friends pay their respects to Bockarie Sonnah. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE family of a teenager who died after jumping into a reservoir just hours after new warning signs were erected have paid tribute to him.

Bockarie Sonnah’s foster father Derek McIntosh placed flowers and a card at the scene today.

The message read: “Bockarie, Thank you for being part of our family and giving us a wonderful, happy two and a half years. If you only knew how much we love you and are heartbroken we have lost you.

“We will never forget you son as you will always be in our hearts and memories forever.

“RIP son.

“All our love, Derek, Sharon, Michael, Kayleigh and Millie.”

Scottish Water flagged up the potential dangers facing visitors to Torduff Reservoir on Monday – the same day Bockarie drowned at the spot.

Distraught schoolfriends and football teammates flocked to Bonaly Country Park yesterday to lay flowers and tributes to the “bouncy” 14-year-old.

Around 30 bouquets now line the edge of the water, alongside a framed picture of Bockarie and his Redhall Star YFC teammates, strips and a Hearts flag.

Online memorial pages have been set up, while friends are planning a charity football match later this summer in his memory. A “boys versus girls” memorial match is also planned for this Sunday at Saughton Park at 1.30pm.

Redhall Star AFC described Bockarie, who played in defence, as a “legend” who would be missed but never forgotten.

“Bockarie was a huge presence who would light up the room with his huge smile and bouncy personality,” the club said in a statement.”

Firrhill High headteacher Sarah Brown said the school community was shocked by the tragic news.

Mrs Brown said: “Bockarie will be sadly missed by the whole school community. Our thoughts are with those who were close to him.”

Bockarie, who would have been going into third year after the summer, previously lived in Longstone but moved to Musselburgh with his foster family around a year ago. He also had a sister, Ileana, who is 16.

Schoolfriend Martha Townsley, 13, was among the distraught teenagers leaving flowers at the reservoir.

She said: “He was boisterous. The school will never be the same without him. Everybody loved him. I just can’t believe he’s gone.”

Joanne Bennett, whose son Blair was Bockarie’s best friend, threw a large inflatable football into the water in his memory. She said: “He was such a lovely laddie. He lit up the room. He had a smile from ear to ear – he was constantly happy.”

It is understood that Bockarie had been jumping from the bank at the side of the reservoir when he got into difficulty at around 6pm on Monday.

He and a small group of friends had agreed that it would be his “last jump” before they left for the day.

After an extensive search effort from emergency crews, Police Scotland’s marine unit recovered the teenager’s body at around 10pm.

A spokesman for Scottish Water confirmed that new warning signs had been installed just hours before Bockarie’s death, as part of a nationwide awareness campaign following a double fatality in Ardrossan last summer.

Councillor Cammy Day, the city’s community safety leader, said there were plenty of reasons to be wary of reservoirs.

He said: “Hidden dangers include freezing cold water beneath the surface which can be an unexpected shock, steep slopes and unseen currents.

“There may be hidden obstacles under the surface which can injure, or there may be difficulties in getting out.”

Police Scotland said there were no suspicious circumstances and a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.