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Water search dog finds victims


Neil Powell and Water Search Dog Fern

THE BODIES of two teenage drowning victims from Castlewellan, County Down, Northern Ireland were found inside 10 minutes - thanks to the expertise of a world-renowned Ulster dog-handler.
Neil Powell's specially trained water search dog Fern - the only one of its kind in the UK or Ireland - quickly indicated where the teenage cousins Claire Steel and Rory McAlinden perished.

Neil, from Newcastle arrived at the lake in Castlewellan Forest Park with other members of the Search and Rescue Dog Association (Ireland North) shortly after 4am on the day of the tragedy.
Neil said: ‘We took five dogs to the scene - one mountain rescue dog, three disaster dogs and one water search dog.

Fern is specially trained to work from a boat and search the water surface for the scent of the person who has drowned. Fern indicated the location of the youngsters within 10 minutes of starting the search.

Rory, 18 and 16-year-old Claire died after their boat capsized. A third teenager - Patrick Morgan, 18- swam to safety and raised the alarm.