Thursday 8 December 2016

‘He was up to his neck sinking into the septic tank’- Teenage hero's quick thinking saved her brother from drowning

Published 09/11/2016 | 12:34

Emily Duggan (13) with her brother Justin (10) who was saved after an incident with a disused septic tank.
Emily Duggan (13) with her brother Justin (10) who was saved after an incident with a disused septic tank.

An Irish teenager has been recognised for saving the life of her younger brother who was moments away from drowning in a disused septic tank.

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Emily Duggan (13) was honoured at the Irish Water Safety’s National Awards ceremony last night for the heroic measures she used to pull her brother Justin (10) to safety after an incident on the family farm in Durrow.

The Laois teenager, who was eight at the time, used a hurl to haul her younger brother out of an old septic tank he had fallen in to, unable to move his body to free himself.

The siblings’ mum Sonya Duggan said that Justin was lucky to have been in the hands of quick thinking Emily and said that her family was extremely lucky not to have been hit by tragedy that day.

“I just remember sitting in my mother-in-law's when I just heard this unmerciful scream. I knew there was something very wrong then.

“We have always been conscious of farm safety and have warned the children for years that they’re not to play up the farm or near the lake. But there just happened to be an old septic tank that hadn’t been used in years down the back of granny’s house in a wooded area, that nobody had thought of or even knew was there. The top had obviously corroded and running ahead of his brother and sister, Justin fell in and sunk down as far as his neck.”

The mum-of-four revealed that Emily quickly realised the danger her brother was in as he rapidly sunk deeper into the tank and used her older brother's hurl to pull him out before it was too late.

“The boys didn’t really know what to do, but Emily just grabbed her brother James’ hurl and managed to get Justin out. He couldn’t move his arms and legs in the tank, and was sinking and sinking so it was very lucky.

“Only for Emily he would have drowned,” she said.

The siblings accepted Emily’s award together last night but their mum admitted that there is often some teasing about the teenager’s brave effort.

Emily Duggan (13) with her brother Justin (10) who was saved after an incident with a disused septic tank.
Emily Duggan (13) with her brother Justin (10) who was saved after an incident with a disused septic tank.

“When they are joking with one another, Emily does say to him ‘Remember when I saved your life... I didn’t have to do that’, just tormenting him but they get on so well.

“Justin is like a cat with nine lives. Of all my children he’s the one who gets up to the most mischief,” said Sonya.

Speaking about the Duggan siblings, Deputy CEO of Irish Water Safety Roger Moore said Emily’s training in school was an asset to her in a time of emergency.

“Emily had taken a course in water safety in primary school, but unfortunately its not mandatory. Only 87pc of schools in Ireland carry out the training, but this could save lives as happened with these two wonderful children.

“Fortunately, Justin was very lucky but 30 kids over the last ten years have tragically not been as lucky. We’re calling on teachers to take an hour out of their time to go through and use our website for resources and help make water safety a conversation in the classroom. It could save lives. "

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