American hero impressed by the kindness of strangers
THE US tourist who was robbed while rescuing a man from the Liffey has said he is overwhelmed by the response he's had from the Irish public since the incident.
Nebraska man Joe Sheehan (20), said he would like to thank the Irish people "for changing my initial opinion of the country."
Mr Sheehan, a trained lifeguard with Irish ancestry, had his smartphone and wallet containing about €150 stolen last Saturday evening while helping a drowning man.
Now he is returning to Ireland to appear on Miriam O'Callaghan's Saturday night chatshow.
Speaking of his rollercoaster week, Joe, a student at London's Kingston University said: "I have had Vodafone offer me a replacement mobile and my fraternity brothers from back home set up a crowd funding website to replace my stolen money.
"The response of everybody I've ever known has been amazing. I would truly like to thank the people of Ireland for changing my initial opinion of the country," he added.
He reserved special thanks for passers-by Hugh, Cathal and Katie who came to his aid after he was robbed, treating him to a night out and ensuring he had somewhere to stay.
"Without them, I would have been lost and alone and the one thing I would like to stress above everything else is that they were my heroes," Joe said.
"I have become this 'hero' and I'm not really a fan of the word. I know it makes for a good headline but I'm just a guy from the United States who is good at swimming.
"The kindness of everyone around me, especially the Dubliners has replaced anything that I could have lost."
But he added: "The only thing that I regrettably lost was all of my pictures from my trip to Germany during the World Cup final and my last week in London. Those are the only things that can't be replaced."
Speaking about the incident last Sunday, Joe said: "I'd just got in about five o'clock at the port. I was walking around, couldn't find a hostel and took some money out of the ATM.
"I was walking across O'Connell Bridge and on the south bank I saw some guy who had climbed down and he jumped into the water.
"He started getting pulled away by the current. His head started to go under so I ran around to the side and took everything out of my pockets, took my trousers and shirt off.
"I tried to grab his hand and extend a jacket to him. He wouldn't grab it so I jumped in and swam him back to where he could get up."
He was then told that someone had taken his wallet and phone.