Wednesday 21 February 2018

'He fell about eight feet into the icy river' - Granddad tells of moment toddler almost drowned

Two year old Max Hourican pictured with his cousin Michael Lyons [7] who helped to rescue him after he fell in to the water while feeding some ducks in Carlow on the 22nd of January 2017. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Two year old Max Hourican pictured with his cousin Michael Lyons [7] who helped to rescue him after he fell in to the water while feeding some ducks in Carlow on the 22nd of January 2017. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath

Ian Begley

A grandfather has told of the frightening moment his young grandson fell into a freezing river.

His other grandson, six-year-old Michael, received a prestigious award along with his granddad and uncle for the part he played in rescuing young Max.

On January 22, a trip to feed the ducks almost ended in tragedy for toddler Max Lyons.

The 18-month-old fell though the railings on the bank and into the freezing River Barrow.

His uncle Michael heard the splash and entered the water as the current carried Max away.

"He fell about eight feet into the icy river," said his grandfather, Michael Lyons.

"Thankfully, he missed the concrete plinth below, and when I turned to my son I saw him immediately leap into the water after him."

The fearless uncle grabbed Max by the jacket while keeping them both afloat, which gave Mr Lyons enough time to pull the child to safety.

The rescuer's son, also Michael, who was five at the time, started shouting for help and a man arrived with warm clothes and took them into his home.

Max has since made a full recovery from the ordeal.

The trio received a Just In Time Award at the Irish Water Safety Awards for saving a life from the water this year.

Volunteers, emergency services personnel and local people were among those whose courage was recognised at the awards this week.

More than 130 people drown in the waters of Ireland every year, on average.

And a total of 30 people were saved from drowning in Ireland's waters this year - thanks to the bravery of heroes.

Forty-three long-service volunteer awards were presented, recognising a combined 895 years of service in teaching swimming, water rescue and survival skills. A total of 30 children, aged 14 and under, have drowned over the past 10 years.

Rural and Community Development Minister Michael Ring, who is responsible for water safety, said the tragic total reflected the importance of constant and uninterrupted child supervision.

"The work of Irish Water Safety's volunteers in teaching and assessing lifeguards pays dividends every year," he said. "I appeal to all adults to make themselves more aware of the dangers in, on or around water.

"It only takes seconds for tragedy to strike."

Online Editors

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