Dancer Ava Gray and Balloch Bridge on the River Leven where the 12-year-old tragically drowned while playing with her pals.
By Democrat reporter
The family of Ava Gray, the 12-year-old Bonhill schoolgirl who drowned while playing in the River Leven at Balloch, have criticised people who took videos of the unfolding drama.
They feel members of the public taking videos on their mobile should have gone to the aid of the of Ava who was struggling in the water with two of her friends.
As they prepared to pay their last respects Ava’s funeral service in Clydebank Crematorium, her heart broken relatives questioned why some people’s first reaction was to start filming the incident which happened in the water beneath Balloch Bridge.
Speaking on behalf of Ava’s mum Leanne Rae, aunt Jamie Gillies told one local journalist: “Only one man tried to help three kids in distress. We are forever in his debt.
“I genuinely worry for our future if this is peole’s priority.”
“Think before you act. Always think of others. Be careful what you say on social media and remember that grieving and distressed families can see your posts.”
Ava’s family said she was mature, responsible and a good swimmer.
As the three children struggled in the water, emergency services rushed to the scene at Balloch Bridge, at 6.45pm on Sunday, August 9.
Her friends managed to get to safety but, sadly, Ava’s body was recovered from the fast flowing river by the emergency services until three hours later.
Her family said they are hurt by comments made online.
Her Aunt Jamie added: “What happened was nothing but a tragic accident.
“Some of the comments we’ve seen making assumptions about what happened have been very hurtful, not just for our family but the families of her two friends who were with her.
“Three kids were paddling in what looked like a very clear and calm part of the river.
“They could swim and were strong and fit. They are not irresponsible children and would never have knowingly put themselves in danger.
Ava, from nearby Alexandria, was looking forward to starting secondary school at the Vale of Leven Academy.
Jamie urged parents to educate their children about the dangers of swimming and said she would approach West Dunbartonshire Council to ask them to do more work with pupils over water safety.
She added: “We live in a very pretty part of the country and on days as warm as last Sunday the water can be so inviting.
“I visited the spot they were playing in. It looks so shallow and calm. They could never have known the danger they were in.
Jamie said: “It’s a pain I hope no one ever has to feel. Ava was a bright, bubbly, talented, fun-loving girl.
“She was full of kindness, sass and attitude. She made a huge impact on anyone she met and always left people smiling.
“As a family she meant the absolute world to us and she has left a void that can never be filled.”
Ava’s family heaped praise on emergency services for being “amazing and extremely professional”.
Friends gathered at Dalmonach Park in Bonhill on Saturday to release yellow and pink balloons in Ava’s memory.
Samantha Henderson, who organised the tribute, said: “She was an amazing young lady and I know that the whole of the area are going to miss her terribly.”