Thursday 20 October 2016

Investigation launched after girl (15) rescued from sea at Hook Head was accidentally dropped back into the sea

Published 08/12/2015 | 13:24

A REVIEW has been ordered of the dramatic rescue of two teens from stormy waters off Wexford by an Irish Coastguard helicopter last Sunday.

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The Waterford-based Sikorsky rescue helicopter successfully rescued the two 15-year-old Dublin venture scouts, a boy and a girl, after they were swept of rocks by Hook Head.

Hook Lighthouse, Co Wexford, the oldest operational lighthouse in the world
Hook Lighthouse, Co Wexford, the oldest operational lighthouse in the world

However, it has emerged that, during the air rescue, the teenage girl slipped from the grasp of the helicopter winchman back into the sea.

Reports have varied over whether she fell 15 feet or 30 feet back into the sea.

She was recovered moments later and brought to Waterford University Hospital in Ardkeen.

The Dublin teen remains in a critical condition.

Her 15 year old friends remains in a stable condition in hospital.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) will now conduct a preliminary review of all the circumstances surrounding the rescue.

Irish Coastguard sources indicated that the helicopter crew were operating in atrocious weather conditions at the time.

These included high winds and stormy seas.

The winchman was afraid that, if he recovered just one teen from the sea, the other would drown by the time he was lowered back down from the hovering Sikorsky.

He made the decision to rescue both teens simultaneously.

The girl was already unconscious.

It is feared she may have struck her head as she was first swept off rocks by a giant wave as she walked with three friends at 2pm on Sunday.

Two teens managed to scramble back to the rocks but the 15 year old girl and a teenage boy were swept out to sea.

The teenage boy has been hailed as a hero for helping to keep the girl's head out of the water as they awaited rescue.

As the winchman was bringing both teens up towards the helicopter, the girl slipped from his grasp and back into the sea.

She was immediately recovered and winched to safety.

Rescue officials said the winchman made the correct - and extremely courageous - decision to rescue both teens at the same time.

Sources indicated that, given the weather conditions, to have left one teen behind would almost certainly have cost them their life.

One official said that, given the circumstances and the obvious risk to life, the decision to rescue both teens was something every rescue crew would have attempted.

The AAIU review is described as routine.

It will involve detailed interviews with all the helicopter crew, an examination of all voice recordings as well an analysis of relevant cockpit data.

The AAIU team will examine all the data and then decide what further review, if any, might be required.

It has been stressed the current review is not a formal investigation.

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