Tragedy as boy, 8, drowns on school camping trip

A mum has spoken of her devastation after her eight-year-old son drowned on his first-ever overnight school camping trip.

Cooper Onyett's body was discovered at the Belfast Aquatics pool in Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia, while he was swimming with other pupils.

It is the second tragedy to hit the family after the boy's twin brother Ethan died before the pair were born.

His shattered mum Skye Meinen said her 'excited little boy' was looking forward to going on his first-ever camp and when she dropped him off she gave him a great big hug goodbye and said 'I'll see you on Friday''.

She told the Herald Sun newspaper the latest heartache is "like Groundhog Day" and has left her feeling "vacant".

She said: "I’ve got no answers. I don’t know what happened. I don’t have any information about the accident from the school. Nobody has actually told me what happened."

The mother-of-three now only has one living son, Jett, who screamed ''he was my only friend!" when he was told about the tragedy.

Ms Meinen described Cooper as "the life of the party" who loved going to school to see his friends, saying that he was always getting in trouble because "he was just like me, a little socialite".

The boy's aunt, Tara, wrote on Facebook that her nephew was an "adventurous and cheeky" boy who will be missed by many.

"Cooper was a wonderful, adorable, cheeky boy who put a smile on everyone's face that he met.

"Our hearts are shattered. Love you always Cooper. You will forever be loved and missed more than words can say."

Family member Tennielle Onyett said: "This wasn’t how your life was meant to go. This wasn’t how your story was meant to end. You had so much left to do. So much left to achieve. So much left to give. The world hadn’t even seen the half of you yet. Nothing anyone can say will ever be able to take away the pain."

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A GoFundMe page set up after Cooper’s death by his school, Merrivale Primary, has raised almost $90,000 (£49k) in just three days.

The pool has been closed since Friday and counselling has been given to staff.

Belfast Aquatics Committee of Management chairperson Anne McIlroy said: "We send our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the boy who tragically lost his life on Friday while swimming at our pool. This is a very difficult time for everyone, and as a committee, we are rallying around the staff at Belfast Aquatics who are inconsolable about what has occurred.

"Counselling sessions are being held today for both the pool staff and members of the public who were at the pool at the time of this tragic accident."

The coroner is investigating the circumstances behind the tragedy.

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