Loch Lomond: Man tells of desperate attempts to save wife, son and family friend who died

·5-min read

A man has told Sky News of the desperate attempts to save his wife, their nine-year-old son and a family friend who died in Loch Lomond. 

Edina Olahova, 29, and Rana Haris Ali lost their lives alongside their friend Muhammad Asim Riaz, 41, near Pulpit Rock on Saturday evening.

Waris Ali said his wife, son and family friends, including their children, decided to stop off at the beach on their way back from the Isle of Skye.

He said they sat on a pier and the youngsters went into the water, thinking it was shallow, but then they "went under".

He said his wife saw the children were drowning and the adults went to save them.

He has told Sky News of his desperate attempts to rescue his wife.

Mr Ali said: "I managed to stay afloat and head towards the shallow water, but when I got out, I saw my wife's hands outside and just her eyes out of the water.

"I took my shirt off and threw it to her so she could grab it, but she couldn't. I then went to go and get help."

He said Mr Riaz's wife called the emergency services.

Mr Ali said a Scottish man arrived and saved Mr Riaz's son, but could not save the other three.

He said: "I was trying to save my wife for some time, took my shirt off but realised I couldn't do anything to save her. And the guy who came couldn't save anyone else, just Asim's son."

"I don't have any words to put together how I'm feeling," he said.

"The three were such lovely people, Asim was my best friend, he was my family. He was more than a friend he was my brother, the three of them would help anyone they could help."

He added: "My wife and my kid were helpful, they would help me or anyone else, if they were in pain, they would do whatever to help. They would help without even thinking to protect other people. That's why today she's not here because her husband was drowning in the water."

Mr Ali said his son was a "special" and "very happy boy".

Mr Riaz's seven-year-old son is currently in intensive care at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow.

Speaking about the deaths on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "These are just heart breaking human tragedies.

"Like everyone else across the country my thoughts are with the families of those who are grieving loved ones right now."

She added: "These tragedies are a reminder that the beauty of some of our waters often belies the dangers they hold.

"Even if you think you're a good, strong swimmer, if you don't understand the current or the depths or the impact of sudden cold water on the body, then you can be putting yourself in real danger.

"I think we'll want to reflect on what more can be done to educate young people about the dangers as well as the beauties of water."

The incident followed the deaths of three other young people in similar circumstances.

Connor Markward, 16, died after getting into difficulty in Loch Lomond on Friday.

Leo Markward led the tributes to his "baby bro" saying that the horrible news has caused his world to "come crashing down".

After an extensive search and rescue operation, Connor's body was recovered from the water and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A GoFundMe page set up by a friend, Kenzie Parks, has raised more than £2,500 to help the family during this difficult time.

"No one should have to go through something so heartbreaking so let's give them all the help we can," she said.

On Saturday afternoon, Dean Irvine, aged 11, died after being found in a river at Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire.

His aunt Jade Law posted a tribute on Facebook which read: "You were my first born nephew & always will be. Your cheeky little grin will be remembered forever.

"Rest in peace gorgeous boy, you were taken far too soon from us."

A GoFundMe in his memory has raised £1,290 to date.

Watch: Safe swimming - The dangers, what to look out for and what to do in an emergency

In Lanark, a 13-year-old boy also lost his life after getting into difficulty in a river in Hazelbank. His body was recovered from the water on Sunday.

A senior officer from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said this weekend was one of the worst in memory for the service.

Alasdair Perry, a deputy assistant chief officer, told Good Morning Scotland: "This is the worst weekend in relation to incidents of this nature I can remember and I'd like to offer my condolences and those of everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to all those affected by this weekend's tragic events, and in particular to the friends and families of all those involved."

Simon Jones, the executive lead for water safety at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, added: "It's been a terrible week in the park and across other parts of Scotland as well for tragic events.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to friends and family.

"We can't remember a period like this - many of our staff were closely involved and it's been very traumatic for people involved.

"[It's been] really, really challenging and sobering - giving us a lot of cause for reflection."

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf also said the Scottish government was "concerned" by the recent tragedies.

He added: "First and foremost my condolences go out to all the families and the communities that have been affected by this.

"I think all of us have been rocked by these tragedies and I spoke to a couple of my ministerial colleagues over the weekend as this news unfolded, and certainly whatever we can do in government to support those in our national parks or other stakeholders to make our parks, our walks, our tourist hotspots as safe as possible, then the government is committed to do that."

Mr Perry urged those swimming in open water to adhere to safety advice, not to leave young people unattended, and to ensure they do not swim after consuming alcohol.

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