Tom McGreil, a 19-year-old teenager, who escaped from an SUV Jeep swept away in a raging river escaped and tried to save his two friends from drowning.

Close friends Declan Davitt and Martin Needham, aged 26 and 27, drowned after the car they were driving was unable to cross the usually calm Carrownisky River near Louisburgh town in Co. Mayo on early Christmas Day. Their bodies have since been recovered after police, firefighters and the coastguard were all called to the scene.

Bodies of the two men who went missing in early hours of this morning after the vehicle they were traveling in entered Carrownisky River near Lousiburgh, Mayo have been found. @rtenews

— Shane Ó Curraighín (@Curraighin) December 25, 2017

Tom McGreil managed to escape the vehicle and struggle back to land, before going back into the water to try and help his friends.

“Poor Tom McGreil risked his life to go back into the water after he escaped but the current was too strong,” one local told the Irish Independent.

The community is said to be in “shock” at the loss of young life at this special time of year.

"Our thoughts go out to their loved ones, their families and friends," Mayo county councillor Christy Hyland said.

"The whole community is in shock. This is a terrible tragedy to happen at any time, but especially on Christmas morning."

Friends who drowned trying to drive across flooded Co Mayo river named locally

— 528Dublin (@528Dublin) December 26, 2017

A statement from gardaí said: “Gardaí in Louisburgh, Co Mayo, are at the scene of a road traffic incident that occurred in the early hours of this morning Monday, 25th December, 2017.

“A four-wheel-drive vehicle with three men on board was crossing the Carrowniskey River at approximately 2.30 am when their vehicle became totally submerged in water.

“The vehicle was swept down the river and one man (19 years) managed to escape and raise the alarm at around 3am.”

The bodies of the two men are currently undergoing a postmortem exam and their funerals are expected to be held next week.