Teenager Bockarie Sonnah dies in reservoir tragedy

Bockarie Sonnah got into difficulty at Torduff reservoir. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Bockarie Sonnah got into difficulty at Torduff reservoir. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A TEENAGE boy who drowned after a summer swimming trip turned to tragedy at Bonaly Country Park has been named as Bockarie Sonnah.

The Musselburgh 14-year-old had been with friends at Torduff Reservoir when he “got into difficulty” in the water.

Emergency crews raced to the scene to attempt to save him but were unable to find him after several hours.

An air support unit and specialist underwater dive teams joined police and fire and rescue crews in the search, but their efforts were in vain and his body was recovered at around 9.45pm.

As news of the tragedy spread, friends posted messages on social media in tribute to Bockarie, who went to Firrhill High School and played football for Redhall Star.

One friend said: “He was the funniest boy I ever met and I wished I could have said goodbye.”

Another posted: “RIP Bockaire Sonnah GBNF [gone but not forgotten] you were the smile on everyone’s face, you were always there for everybody and you were an amazing friend you will be missed.”

Cameron Gardner said: “Such a great guy! RIP mladdie!! Xx”

And Gary Anderson said: “Crackin lad. Cheeky big smile will be sorely missed.”

Police and rescue crews were called to the reservoir at around 6.15pm following a report of a boy in difficulty in the water.

There was an extensive police presence along with at least three fire engines and several Scottish Fire and Rescue incident support units. Officers guarded the entrance to Torduff Reservoir and a section of Bonaly Road which leads to Bonaly Outdoor Activity and Camping Centre was closed throughout the evening while the search operation continued.

Traumatised parents of other teenagers who had been at the reservoir with the victim were seen picking up their children.

Two youngsters, who had blankets and foil wraps around them, were each seen walking with their parents to the car park at the end of Torduff Road before being driven away.

One shocked onlooker told how he had driven to the scene to offer help, only to be told by first aiders who had rushed from their nearby homes that there was no hope.

He said: “There were kids on Bonaly Road who told me there was a kid in the reservoir. I came up in the car because I thought I could help – I’m CPR trained.” The man, who asked not to be named, said the emergency services arrived shortly afterwards. “Seemingly there are kids always playing up there,” he said.

Around 30 emergency service workers could be seen at the northern edge of the reservoir recovering a body at around 9.45pm. Police, fire and ambulance vehicles left the scene by 11pm.

A promising footballer, Bockarie - who had previously lived in the Longstone area - was a Hearts fan and one of his first tweets was to pay tribute to Jamie Skinner, another Edinburgh teenager who died in tragic circumstances. It said simply: “No one should go to play a game of football and never return.”

Colinton councillor Jason Rust said: “This is desperately sad and tragic news. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. It is vital that the dangers of reservoirs are recognised, particularly over the summer period given other recent incidents elsewhere in the UK.”

Reservoirs in the Lothians have been the scene of several tragedies over the years.

In September 2012, David Archibald, 59, and Andrew Conlon, 56, both lost their lives at the Gladhouse Reservoir in Gorebridge after going on one of their regular fishing trips.