MAHAREES natives who helped in the frantic efforts to rescue Cork student Niamh McCarthy from a sand dune last week were left deeply saddened when she lost her battle for life in Kerry General Hospital.
The 19- year- old UCC student, who was left fighting for her life after the rescue operation on Tuesday of last week, passed away the following day. Maharees native Aidan O'Connor was among the locals who frantically dug the student out of the sand dune after her friends raised the alarm on the beach. He described as ' harrowing' the eventual discovery of Ms McCarthy.
"I was stopped on the road by the gardaí and asked to help in the rescue and I got down to help in the digging. Only a few of us could dig at that very point."
Local gardaí called on everyone in the vicinity able to help in the rescue.
The young Carrigaline native and her friends had dug a hole more than half way up the dunes on the Brandon Bay beach in the Maharees at Kilshanning West. It is thought they had simply been messing about in the carefree spirit of their holiday and were jumping in and out of the hole when part of the sand dune collapsed.
"The hole itself was very deep but there was three foot of sand over her and it kept moving as we were trying to dig her out. It was a harrowing sight when we eventually got to her and got her out, but you don't think about anything other than the task in hand in those situations," Mr O'Connor, a local fruit and veg wholesaler, said.
He was deeply impressed with her friends. "They were brilliant in fairness, they raised the alarm immediately and helped with the rescue. It must be so hard on them as with her poor family and the shock around the Maharees was very deep when we learned that she hadn't pulled through. To be honest though I wasn't expecting good news," Mr O'Connor added.