'Emmy has not missed life, she has simply skipped this world' - funeral held for Irish girl (5) who died in lake tragedy in Germany
A FIVE year old Irish girl who died in a lake tragedy in Germany was hailed as a precious gift to her family.
The funeral of Emmy Sophia Eckert (5) took place in Ballincollig, Co Cork as her parents, Andreas and Darlene Eckert, said they were totally overwhelmed by the support shown to them since the tragedy.
Ballincollig Baptist Bible Centre staged the little girl's funeral service as hundreds gathered to show their support for the devastated family.
Cork was shocked as two local children died in overseas drowning tragedies in the space of a week.
Four days after Emmy's tragic accident, little Avery James Green (3) from Mallow died after being found unresponsive in a swimming pool in the Costa Blanca resort of Cabo Roig in Spain.
Emmy was on holiday in Germany with her parents, Andreas and Darlene, and her siblings, Johannes, Paula and Josef, when the tragedy occurred at a lakeside resort outside Dessau on August 8.
She was found unresponsive in the water and, despite desperate efforts to revive her including being rushed to a nearby hospital, she died a short time later.
The little girl was due to return to her studies at Scoil Mhuire in Ballincollig in just over a week.
Mourners included families whose children attend Scoil Mhuire, as well as workmates of her parents at VMWare in Cork.
Baptist Bible Centre Pastor Craig Ledbetter said the local community had showed "tremendous love, kindness and compassion" to the family.
"They need it at this difficult time," he said.
The pastor said Emmy loved her family, her friends and her classmates.
"She was full of fun and she loved life," he said.
"But Emmy has not missed life. She has simply skipped this world. God will wipe away all tears.
"This funeral is not a goodbye-forever-funeral. Because of the Lord Jesus we are not saying goodbye to Emmy but goodnight. We believe we
will see Emmy again.
"We think we are in charge but we are not. God is in charge. There are no accidents outside of God's control. He cares about us and he is constantly thinking about us. He is working beyond our comprehension even in this tragedy."
A video and photo montage of some of the special family moments of Emmy's life was shown on a large screen to mourners - as her parents fought back tears.
"Goodnight Emmy - we will see you in the morning," the tribute concluded.
Emmy's white coffin was covered in flowers, her favourite teddy bear and a framed photograph.
- Read More: 'It is a blessing to have you all' - parents of Irish girl (5) who drowned in Germany as almost €11,000 raised for funeral costs
Andreas and Darlene posted a special message to thank their Cork friends for their support and their kindness in setting up a GoFundMe campaign to help the family with funeral costs.
"We would like to thank you for this wonderful support. It is a blessing to have you all," they said.
The appeal raised almost €11,000 of its €12,000 target in just five days.
Irish Water Safety (IWS) chief executive John Leech said the rate of drownings in Ireland, and those involving Irish citizens overseas, remains a matter of serious concern.
The deaths bring to four the number of Irish youngsters aged under 14 to drown this year.
Two died in Ireland and two drowned overseas.
"Clearly we are very, very concerned," the IWS boss said.
"What is shocking is that, if you look at the statistics, we lose a classroom of children every ten years.
"Around 30 children aged under 14 will drown on average every decade."