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Saturday 21 October 2017

Friends tried in vain to dig teen from sand, inquest told

Anne Lucey

A DAY of "innocent, old-fashioned fun" turned to tragedy when a young student died after she was buried by a collapsing sand dune.

Friends of the late Niamh McCarthy wept as the inquest into her death heard details of the last moments of the 19-year-old. Frantic efforts were made to reach the teenager – her friends using their bare hands to try and reach her.

The teenager managed to communicate with her friends while under the collapsed dune for a period of time; however it took 20 minutes to free her and by that time she had already suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen. She was pronounced dead the next day at Kerry General Hospital.

Ms McCarthy, of Ballygrissane, Minane Bridge, Co Cork, spent the morning of May 29, 2012, digging a hole with her friends about halfway up a sand dune alongside the beach in the Maharees.

They had been lowering each other into the hole which was between 9ft and 11ft deep, and taking pictures of each other.

Ms McCarthy was the last to go into the hole. She was in there no more than a few minutes when it collapsed.

A post-mortem found Ms McCarthy's death was due to asphyxia due to being buried in the sand. The inquest jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

Irish Independent

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