South of the Lifford bridge, where the Foyle, Mourne and Finn rivers meet, there are two deep holes in the river bed. Standing on the bank, you can see two soft swirls in the water when the river is calm.
Joseph Colhoun thinks the body of his son David may be down there.
David Colhoun, age 22, of Beechwood Grove in Lifford, was last seen in the early hours of Sunday, May 22nd, after he escaped from Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) custody. He had been arrested for what police described as minor offences.
A PSNI spokesperson told the Democrat that the missing person case remains open, though there was no active search at the minute.
For Joseph Colhoun, the search never stopped.
“I know every stick and stone from here to Derry,” Joseph said, as he walked the bank of the Foyle, along the Strabane side of the river. Joseph and his sons have been searching every day since David went missing about nine months ago.
“I’ve searched from here to Moville, and I’ve walked from here to Derry, both sides of the river,” Joseph said.
It is understood that CCTV footage showed David heading towards the Mourne that morning, but did not show him enter the river. But Joseph and the rest of David’s family have said that if David were alive he would have contacted them, sparing them the torment they have experienced since then.
“I knew when he didn’t contact me the next day,” Joseph said. “There was no doubt in my mind.” His eyes filled with tears, and Joseph pressed a tissue against his eyes as he composed himself.
Last year, Joseph said, searchers on the river had discovered the holes in the river bed were about 20 feet deep, when they employed a device that was used to measure water depth. Down in the holes also appear to be weighted-down sections of a barbed wire, used to discourage poaching; the wire would tear poachers’ nets. But the snarl of wire also makes the area a treacherous one for divers to search.
“It’s too dangerous,” Joseph said. “They’re afraid someone would get tangled in it.” He said he can appreciate the concerns for the divers’ safety.
“I don’t fault them for not going into it,” he said. At the same time, Joseph said he feels that those depressions may be the last places where David could be found here.
“If I don’t get him there, he’s not there,” Joseph said.
Read more in today’s Donegal Democrat.