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Friends pay tribute to swimmer who died in Western Isles loch

Stephen Slavin got into difficulty while swimming on Sunday.
Stephen Slavin got into difficulty while swimming on Sunday.

A male swimmer who drowned in a loch while on holiday in the Western Isles has been named by police as Stephen Slavin from Ayrshire.

The 37-year-old was swimming in Loch Caitiosbhal near Marvig on Lewis on Sunday morning when he began experiencing difficulty.

A major land, air and water search was conducted of the area by numerous local emergency teams following a 999 call from a concerned member of the public who saw him struggling.

Mr Slavin was recovered from the water a short time later, but was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sergeant David MacKinnon from Stornoway police office said inquiries remained at an early stage.

He said: “Inquiries into the circumstances surrounding Stephen’s death, which is not being treated as suspicious, are ongoing and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

“Our thoughts remain with Stephen’s family at this very difficult time.”

His death brought a tragic end to his island hopping trip to the Outer Hebrides.

Mr Slavin began his trip in Oban before venturing west to Barra in the Western Isles.

The 37-year-old’s travels continued north to Eriskay, Uist and Lewis and Harris.

Friends of the amateur footballer have taken to social media to remember him.

Ian Cowan said: “Sad to hear of the passing of Stephen Slavin. Played football together at TASS and possibly a pub team if I remember right. Good big player and decent guy. RIP pal. Tragic news.”

A large search involving Stornoway coastguard rescue team, the coastguard helicopter rescue 948, the local lifeboat crew and officers from Police Scotland, was conducted at the east coast loch in the search for the swimmer who had disappeared from sight.

Upon arrival, personnel began conducting a shoreline search while rescue swimmers were deployed.

R948 conducted an aerial search and the inflatable Y boat, which had been towed to the scene from Marabhig pier from the lifeboat, conducted a surface search.

A short time later, a local diver recovered the casualty to the boat where he was transferred ashore and declared dead.

A spokesman from Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team said: “Our Team would like to thank the local community for the support they received while on scene.

“Our thoughts and condolences go to the family and friends of the deceased at this time.”

The Marvig road was closed near the Cromore junction amidst the incident as personnel attempted to land the coastguard helicopter on the shores of the loch.

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