Family of girl who died in river slam people filming search instead of helping

The heartbroken family of a girl who died in the River Leven have criticised people who filmed the search and rescue team on their phones instead of offering to help.

Ava Gray, 12, had been struggling with two friends in the river, near Balloch Bridge, at the foot of Loch Lomond, before she disappeared under the water around 6.45pm on August 9. Her body was later found at 9.45pm following an extensive search of the area.

As her family prepared to hold her funeral yesterday, they expressed their upset over onlookers who came to capture the ‘drama’ on their phones. Ava’s aunt Jamie Gillies said they had been ‘absolutely disgusted’ to hear how people had shared videos of the operation on Snapchat.

She told the Daily Record: ‘If any one of those people put as much effort into helping the kids we may not be here. I genuinely worry for our future if this is people’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.’

Ms Gillies said ‘only one man’ had tried to rescue Ava and her two friends from the river, adding that the family were ‘forever in his debt’.

Ava’s family said she was a ‘mature and responsible’ girl, who had also been a good swimmer. Ms Gillies told the Lennox Herald they were hurt by comments online which made assumptions about how Ava died.

She said: ‘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 had been a talented dancer and was looking forward to starting secondary school at the Vale of Leven Academy in autumn.

Ms Gillies paid tribute to her ‘bright and bubbly’ niece, who she said was always full of ‘kindness, sass and attitude’. She added: ‘As a family she meant the absolute world to us and she has left a void that can never be filled.’

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