Saturday 29 July 2017

Girl (14) hailed a hero after she saves teenage boy from drowning in river

'I was just trying to calm him and get him out' - says Ruth

Ruth Conlon Oates (14), from Sligo, is also a talented kick boxer
Ruth Conlon Oates (14), from Sligo, is also a talented kick boxer

Sorcha Crowley

A young Irish girl has been hailed a hero after she saved a teenage boy from drowning in the local river last week.

Ruth Conlon Oates (14), from Sligo, was sunbathing with two friends on the banks of Ballisodare river during the fine weather when the drama unfolded.

A group of boys they knew had gone into the water to cool down when one of them -Wayne Doyle (14) - suddenly got into difficulty.

"The boy was screaming for help and splashing the water. He was bobbing up and down. I just thought that I had to go in and try my best to get him out," she told The Sligo Champion.

Ruth's life-saving instincts kicked in and she jumped straight in to rescue him.

"The other boys were in shallower parts of the river. They couldn't go in to get him because they weren't strong swimmers," she said.

"The current was strong enough. I could touch the bottom if I was fully under. I was just trying to calm him and get him out. I got him from behind and just pushed him out by his back," she said.

She got the boy to the river bank where she described him as "shook up but very grateful."

Ruth visited Wayne at his home in Ballisodare later that night. "His parents said if it wasn't for me he wouldn't be here. They were very grateful," she said.

Ruth's been something of a local celebrity since word of her heroics got out. "It's sinking in slowly. People I don't even know are congratulating me. Lots of people of all ages are coming up shaking my hand and saying 'well done'," she said.

She's now warning other teens to avoid rivers: "I wouldn't advise it. But if they are thinking of swimming in rivers, have parents there, have an adult watching you," said Ruth.

"It was very frightening and traumatic for the two of them," her relieved mother Aine Conlon said. "It hasn't hit home yet but we're very proud of her," she added.

The Mercy College student is also a talented kick boxer and will compete for Sligo in the World Championships in Dublin next week.

Sligo Champion

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