Friday 18 October 2019

Girl in critical condition after being trapped under capsized row boat on fast-flowing river

Accident: The rowing boat which capsized on the River Shannon, trapping a girl lodged against a former salmon weir in Limerick. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22
Accident: The rowing boat which capsized on the River Shannon, trapping a girl lodged against a former salmon weir in Limerick. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

David Raleigh

A teenage girl is in a critical condition after a weekend boating accident.

Gardaí are investigating the circumstances in which the girl was seriously injured when she became trapped under a rowing boat after it capsized.

It is understood she became trapped beneath the rowing boat after her hair was entangled in the outriggers which hold the oars in place on the boat.

The incident occurred on the River Shannon at the Thomond Salmon Weir, Limerick, at around 10am on Saturday.

Haunted by the screams: Danny and Susan Ryan saw the accident happen. Photo: Brendan Gleeson
Haunted by the screams: Danny and Susan Ryan saw the accident happen. Photo: Brendan Gleeson

The girl and three teenage girls and a teenage boy had all set off in the rowing boat from a local boat club a short time earlier.

It is understood a support boat was travelling alongside the row boat when it overturned in fast-flowing water.

Last night, it was still unclear whether or not the four girls were wearing life jackets.

The girl was initially treated at University Hospital Limerick but was transferred to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin on Saturday evening.

Her family has been keeping a vigil at her bedside.

Athlunkard Boat Club issued a statement yesterday saying: "There was a serious incident on the River Shannon yesterday morning where four teenage girls and one teenage boy from our club were in a rowing boat that overturned.

"They were accompanied by one of our safety boats.

"One of these girls was transferred to hospital following the incident. We are monitoring the situation and are in constant contact with the family and Rowing Ireland.

"Our thoughts are now focused on supporting the family, the girls and boy who were in the boat at the time and our club members."

Limerick Superintendent Derek Smart said the investigation was ongoing and he has also referred the matter to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

Firefighters attached to Limerick City Fire and Rescue Service, who happened to be carrying out a routine patrol of the river at the time, came across the overturned boat, while simultaneously receiving a Coast Guard alert about the incident.

Firefighters cut the girl free from underneath the boat and performed emergency first aid on their boat en route to a nearby slipway where the girl was met by paramedics.

The rowing boat, which is believed to have been badly damaged during the incident, will be examined by investigators. It was removed from the water at low tide at around 9.30pm on Saturday.

Eye witness Danny Ryan (49), from Thomondgate, who came upon the scene, said he will be "forever haunted" by hearing friends of the girl "screaming" for help.

"I could see the boat turned over and a girl waving and screaming," he said.

"My stomach is sick over it. It was scary. I'm haunted all day. I can still hear the girls screaming, 'Help, help, help'."

Irish Independent

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