Body of Blackburn missing dad-of-2 discovered close to his home by angler (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Body of Blackburn missing dad-of-2 discovered close to his home by angler
THE body of a missing father-of-five was found in the canal in Blackburn yesterday.
Police and air ambulance crews were called to the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near to Cherry Tree Cricket Club at 11am yesterday.
It was later confirmed that the body was that of Andrew O’Neil, who had been missing since Sunday.
His death is being treated as ‘unexplained’ but police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
A man who was out fishing on the waterway had spotted the body and raised the alarm.
Mr O’Neil, 42, of Fielding Crescent, was last seen driving away from his home on Sunday at about 7.30pm.
His car was found on Wednesday, parked near the Navigation Inn in the Mill Hill area.
A police spokesman said: “At 11am police were called by a man who was fishing on the canal at Gladstone Terrace to say that he had found the body of a man.
“Officers attended and the body was recovered. Although formal identification has yet to take place, it is believed to be Andrew O’Neil and his family have been informed.
“At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained.”
After he went missing, a Facebook group was set up called ‘Help find Andrew O’Neil’, which last night had more than 1,250 members.
Darren Lomax paid tribute to Mr O’Neil, his friend of 10 years.
He said: “My heart goes out to his family and his children.
“I just can’t get my head round this.
“Andrew was once of the nicest guys you could ever meet.
“He was outgoing, sociable and friendly.
“He loved going to the gym and going out at weekends.
“But most of all he was a big family man.”
Local shopkeepers spoke of their shock at seeing the air ambulance land on the cricket field, and five police cars and a road ambulance pull up in Gladstone Terrace.
Sam Livesey, of Dillon’s Barbers in Preston Old Road, Cherry Tree, said: “All of a sudden a police car and three bikes came down the road with lights flashing and sirens going, but then one of them turned around and went the other way.
“We thought at first that someone was on the run and being chased, but then the air ambulance came.”
Laura Stewart, 21, of Mambo’s tanning shop in Preston Old Road, said: “It’s upsetting to hear that someone’s been pulled out of the water.
“I used to see Andy around, walking past the shop, and I recognised his picture on the missing appeals in the Lancashire Telegraph.
“It’s a real shame because he was all right.”
Shortly after the discovery, police officers took up positions on the towpath, blocking public access from the footbridge near Green Lane, to outside St Francis C Of E Primary School playing fields, off Cherry Tree Lane.