Foster family heartbroken over Bockarie Sonnah

Tributes have been mounting to Bockarie Sonnah.
Tributes have been mounting to Bockarie Sonnah.
Have your say

The foster family of a teenager who drowned at a city reservoir have told of their heartbreak and said they will “never forget” him.

Bockarie Sonnah’s tragic death at Torduff Reservoir has sparked fresh warnings about swimming in the unpredictable waters – but just two days on children have been spotted playing at the same spot.

The 14-year-old’s devastated foster father, Derek McIntosh, and a young boy, believed to be his son Michael, visited the scene to lay flowers and read the mounting tributes from Bockarie’s Firrhill High School friends and Redhall Star AFC team-mates.

Both looked visibly upset yesterday as they read other tributes and messages which had been left at the scene.

Their own 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.”

Despite the banks of floral tributes at the scene, children were today seen playing in the same reservoir. Just hours before the tragedy, Scottish Water had erected new danger signs warning visitors tempted to take a dip: “Take care, deaths have occurred at reservoirs.”

A spokesman said Scottish Water couldn’t bar people from using the watercourses but urged caution when swimming.

He said: “Across Scotland there are many locations where there is open water, such as reservoirs. These tend to be places that the public enjoy having access to under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Scottish Water does not encourage swimming or diving in any of its reservoirs. Scottish Water reminds the public every summer to play it safe in or near watercourses, including reservoirs, and advises people not to take risks. This is particularly relevant during school holidays and when we have a spell of warm, dry weather.”

RNLI Scotland said swimmers should always be “properly prepared” for the conditions and not swim on their own.

Michael Avril, community incident reduction manager, said: “We were deeply saddened to hear of this tragic incident. In the interest of preventing incidents like this happening in the future we would like to offer some safety advice to the public. Make sure you are properly prepared for the conditions – this might involve some form of buoyancy aid. If possible swim in a lifeguarded area. Always read and obey any safety signs.”

It is believed Bockarie, who was originally from Sierra Leone, was going for “one last jump” from the bank when he began struggling in the water at about 6.15pm. Despite extensive efforts by emergency services to save him, his body was recovered at around 10pm.