Friday 21 October 2016

Pregnant mother jumps into icy river to save son, 10

Published 18/01/2013 | 05:00

Liz O'Brien, her son Derek, and passer-by Fabien Lugandu, who rescued them
Liz O'Brien, her son Derek, and passer-by Fabien Lugandu, who rescued them

A PREGNANT mother-of-four risked her own life by jumping into a river to save her 10-year-old son from drowning.

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Liz O'Brien, from Tralee, Co Kerry, said she completely forgot she was six months pregnant when her son got into difficulty.

Derek, who has special needs, slipped and fell into the River Lee in the town as the family was taking a shortcut home on Thursday afternoon.

Her other children, Danielle (9), Jamie (7) and Aoife (3) looked on in horror from the riverbank as the drama unfolded.

Ms O'Brien has paid tribute to passer-by, Fabien Lugandu, who heard their screams and came to their assistance.


She said that, only for him, they both would have drowned.

"He just came from nowhere and pulled us out," Ms O'Brien told the Irish Independent. "We were trapped where we were with no way out and the water at either side of us was really deep."

She says her mother's instinct just "kicked in" when she when she saw that Derek, who can't swim, had fallen into the water.

"I didn't even think. I just jumped in after him and when I saw him go under I was trying to grab him, but I kept on pulling out branches and twigs that were in the water," she added.

On about her fifth attempt she said she managed to grab hold of Derek and pull him up for air.

"He was gasping and there was water coming out of his mouth. I held on to him and I was grabbing onto a bit of iron underneath the bridge when Fabien came along," she recalled.

Luckily, Derek has recovered from his ordeal but mother and son are still experiencing flashbacks and are having difficulty sleeping.

But his mother says the outcome would have been much worse had it not been for Mr Lugandu.

Irish Independent

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