A vigil has been planned following the tragic deaths of two teenage boys in a Co Londonderry lough.
The 16-year-olds, who have been named locally as Reuven Simon and Joseph Sebastian, had been swimming at Lough Enagh on Monday evening when they got into difficulty.
St Columb’s principal Finbar Madden described them as “exemplary young men” in a statement on Facebook.
“Both boys were mature beyond their years and had excelled in their recent GCSE examinations,” he said.
“They were very close friends who had been in the same form class since they joined us in 2017.
“Whenever you met Joseph or Reuven, you were greeted with a warm and friendly smile.
“It should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that they had a large circle of friends and were deeply respected by their peers and those members of staff who were fortunate to have taught them.”
I will open a Book of Condolence tomorrow afternoon in the Guildhall in memory of Reuven Simon & Joseph Sebastian. The book will be open to the public from 4pm on Wednesday or for those of you unable to visit the Guildhall you can sign online via https://t.co/SiHjLaBg8a pic.twitter.com/hxurWp1Uxd
— Mayor Derry Strabane (@mayordcsdc) August 30, 2022
The boys are expected to be laid to rest on Friday following a joint funeral service at St Mary’s Church, Ardmore.
Flowers have been left at the scene of the tragedy – where the bikes the boys were riding remained – on Tuesday.
A book of condolence was opened at the Guildhall in Derry on Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday night, the local community in Strathfoyle are to hold a candle lit vigil, and offer solidarity and prayers to the families of the teenagers.
There have been calls to improve safety measures around the lough.
Foyle Search and Rescue (FSR) said there should be more warnings around how deep the water is, as well as guidance on what to do if you get into difficulty and better availably of life rings around the area.
Police are carrying out inquiries into the incident, but said they believe it was a tragic drowning incident.
“Our thoughts are with the families of those affected,” a spokesperson said.