BRAVE teenagers helped save a schoolboy from drowning when they responded to the cries of his young friends -- and threw him a life-buoy.
"It is the very best Christmas present we could ever have," said Eva and Jaroslav, the grateful parents of 12-year-old Lukas Sivak as they came to terms with what their son had endured.
He was safe and warm in his Drogheda home with his parents yesterday after being treated for mild hypothermia in hospital after Saturday's drama.
The couple said a heartfelt thank you to the teenage boys, who were playing football a few hundred metres away from where Lukas went into the fast-flowing River Boyne.
The near tragedy happened just after 6.30pm on Saturday.
"We were playing around near where the park was and dancing around, and I tripped over and fell in," said Lukas.
He plunged into the river, which was at high tide, beneath the Bridge of Peace, which crosses the Boyne close to the garda station.
There are no railings at the river's edge at this location.
He shouted for help and his friends tied their coats together and lowered them down for him to hold on to.
One of them ran for help to local teenagers Justin McKenna (15), Paul Maguire (16), Dylan Rogers (16) and Jack Hoey (15), who ran down to the river's edge.
Paul said: "I called 999 and the man who answered was very helpful. The gardai had a flashlight and were asking, 'is there somebody in the river?'"
The teenagers kept Lukas calm but Justin said he had trouble getting the ring-buoy out of its casing.
The gardai arrived and held on to the life-buoy that Lukas had been gripping until the Irish Coast Guard arrived. They brought him ashore where an ambulance was waiting.
His mother Eva yesterday said: "It was good that there were other people there. If not, it could be much worse."