A DISTRAUGHT father has spoken of the pain of losing his “lovely” 14-year-old son in a drowning tragedy in the United States.
McKinley Day, of Farndon near Wrexham, was on holiday in New York State when he got into difficulty as he swam across a river.
The Bishop Heber pupil was found shortly afterwards in eight feet of water but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
His father Adam Day, who lives in Christleton, Chester, and runs his own painting and decorating business, said: “McKinley and his younger brother Mitchell, who is 12, were on holiday with my ex-wife, Lesley.
“The boys live in Farndon with their mother and spend weekends and one day a week with me in Christleton.
“They were staying at Watertown in the Adirondack Mountains with an old penfriend of Lesley and her husband, Kenny and Tina Zehr.
“It’s a nice spot which we started going to before we split up – McKinley had been about four times.
“Last Friday afternoon, they were swimming in the Beaver River at Croghan – a nice calm part of the river with a number of small pools.
“Kenny was swimming behind Mitchell to make sure he was all right.
“When they got to a rock they stopped and looked behind and could see McKinley swimming across.
“But they noticed he was in trouble and Kenny shouted to ask if he was okay – he shouted back to say ‘no’.
“Kenny then jumped in the water but by the time he reached him McKinley had gone under.”
Mr Day added: “An off-duty state trooper and a lifeguard were in a canoe nearby and came down the river to help.
“They found McKinley in eight feet of water but were unable to revive him.
“We just don’t know what kind of trouble he got into.
“We presume he got cramp and just couldn’t get to the side. Apparently, he seemed to lose all power.”
Mr Day said the distance was making it difficult to find out more information about the tragedy.
He had since been trying to organise an earlier flight home for Lesley and Mitchell.
He said: “I think I’ve managed it and they will back on Wednesday.
“We are told it may be up to 10 days before we are able to bring McKinley back home.
“There has been a post mortem as they were wondering whether this was due to a health issue but the result showed he had a strong heart.
“We are now awaiting the results of blood tests but it is looking like a tragic accident.”
Mr Day continued: “To lose your own child is just so devastating and painful.
“McKinley was such a lovely boy, his death has overwhelmed everyone.
“He was my life and I don’t know how I will ever recover from this.
“He had dyslexia which he had to work doubly hard at school to overcome – but, God bless him, he did.
“He was such a kind boy who always had time for people and always helped people.
“He was very polite and good mannered.
“McKinley also loved water sports and couldn’t wait to visit America on holiday.
“I wouldn’t say he was a strong swimmer but he was competent in the water.
“He was also on the school rugby team and was very keen on photography.
“He also had a photographic memory for facts.
“I think he wanted to eventually become a wildlife photographer.”
Hundreds of tributes have been paid to McKinley, both on his own website, now being overseen by his father, and one set up by a young boy in Ireland in his memory.