A heartbroken father whose wife, nine-year-old son and friend drowned at Loch Lomond after misjudging the depth of the water today revealed his desperate attempts to save them, as haunting photos showed them posing in the water just hours before the tragedy.
Edina Olahova, 29, her son, Rana Haris Ali and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 41, died after getting into difficulty in the water near Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond on Saturday evening.
A seven-year-old boy, the son of Mr Asim, is fighting for his life in hospital following the horror accident at Pulpit Roch, Ardlui, Argyll and Bute. The families, who lived in Govan, Glasgow, had been travelling around the Isle of Skye.
Widower Waris Ali, 40, told BBC Scotland that his son and friend were playing on the pier and at the end of the pier, his friend put his foot into the water and fell in. The BBC reported that only Mr Asim was able to swim.
Mr Waris said: ‘We were coming back from Isle of Skye holidays and we decided to take a break and we stopped there. We were sitting and out kids were playing on the pier, when he reached he end of the pier he tried to put a foot in and then he suddenly went over the side.
‘When we see him we went to save him, everybody thought we could walk in, but you couldn’t walk. At first your foot is in deep water. It looked very safe. Everybody was thinking this was maybe a safe place.
‘But when you put your foot inside, that’s deep water.’
He added: ‘When I came out from the water, I could see my wife’s hand. I tried to pull off my shirt and give it to her to catch but she couldn’t.’
Mr Ali also told Sky News his wife saw the children drowning and the adults jumped in to save them.
The tragedy was described as ‘one of the worst weekends’ in the history of the national park by bosses as it emerged another three children lost their lives in Scottish waters in a 48-hour period.
On Friday, Conor Markward, 16, died in Ballcoh Castle Country Park, West Dunbartonshire.
On Saturday, Dean Irvine, aged 11, died in Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, while a 13-year-old boy also died in a river at Hazlebank, South Lanarkshire.
Edina Olahova, Waris Ali and Muhammad Asim Riaz with his wife pictured hours before the tragedy during the family holiday at Loch Lomond
Rana (pictured) was seen helping an adult steer a boat as they enjoyed a sunny day out during the heatwave
Mr Ali said of trying to save his wife: ‘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 a Scottish man saved Mr Riaz’s son but could not rescue the other three from the water.
‘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,’ he said.
The seven-year-old boy was was taken to hospital.
Raza (left) and Ali (right) pictured on their family holiday at Loch Lomond
Thirty people have reportedly drowned in accidents across the UK in just one week
Speaking about the deaths on Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘These are just heartbreaking 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.’
Police Scotland deputy chief constable Will Kerr urged people to be aware of the ‘float for your life’ campaign, which urges swimmers who find themselves in difficulty to float as much as possible and call for help.
The family had stopped at the beauty spot (pictured) as they headed home from Skye
He said: ‘We’re realistic and practical, we’re not going to stop everybody going into the water in this beautiful weather.
‘Please, please, we want to avoid any more of these terrible tragedies.
‘Just be very, very careful when you do so and make sure you know the advice on how to protect yourself and save yourself if you do get into trouble.’
Alasdair Perry, a deputy assistant chief officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: ‘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.’
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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