'Maria risked her life to save our boy, we can never repay her' - mother's tribute after rescue of son (3)
The parents of a three-year-old boy who was saved from drowning in a river by the quick action of a brave woman, have said they will never be able to fully repay her.
Adriana and Alan Watters said Maria Foley risked her own life when she jumped into the River Lee in Cork city centre to save Caleb after he slipped and fell in.
"She saved our child - she is a hero in every sense of the word," said Adriana said.
"She risked her own life to save a little child. That is the action of a true hero."
The incident, at Patrick's Quay, occurred at noon on Friday as Caleb and another young child were being taken for a walk by an au pair.
Caleb apparently ran ahead and the au pair was unable to grab him in time.
The child wanted to look at fish swimming in the river - but slipped on the wet footpath and slid directly underneath safety barriers and into the river.
Having immediately dived into the river to rescue the child, Maria then managed to hold Caleb above her head with one hand while supporting both of them from the quay wall with her other hand.
In the minutes after the rescue, the mother of 13 insisted to emergency services that anyone would have done the same to rescue a child.
"All that matters is that the child is OK," she said.
Adriana, who is originally from Cologne in Germany but currently lives in Cork, said her family would never be able to thank Maria sufficiently for what she did.
"She didn't stop for a second to think about her own safety," she said. "I don't know what we would have done if Maria hadn't jumped in to the river to save him.
"We could be dealing with a terrible tragedy today instead of being able to hold our son and tell him how much we love him."
Adriana has now set up a special fundraising page as a gesture of thanks to Maria for her incredible courage. The page has a fundraising target of €13,000 - and almost €2,000 was donated in just over 18 hours.
"I believe that Maria deserves special recognition for what she did. The fundraising page is our gesture of thanks," explained Adriana.
She has appealed to people to show their appreciation for Maria's courage by supporting the special fundraising page the Watters family set up for the rescuer at: gofundme.com/fundatruehero.
The family stressed that if Maria does not want the proceeds, they can be donated to Cork's emergency services.