Monday 16 September 2019

'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

Emmy Sophia Eckert
Emmy Sophia Eckert

Ralph Riegel

A FIVE year old Irish girl who died in a lake tragedy in Germany will be buried tomorrow as Irish Water Safety officials expressed alarm at the spate of recent drownings.

The funeral of Emmy Sophia Eckert (5) will take place in Ballincollig, Co Cork tomorrow as her parents, Andreas and Darlene Eckert, said they were overwhelmed by the support shown to them since the August 8 tragedy.

The couple posted a special message to thank their Cork friends for their support and for 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," the heartbroken couple said.

The appeal has raised almost €11,000 of its €12,000 target in just five days. Little Emmy died after a freak lake accident during a family holiday at Dessau in Germany.

Emmy's funeral will take place at 11am at the Bible Baptist Centre at Innishmore in the Cork town.

Ballincollig Bible Baptist Community Pastor Craig Ledbetter said everyone was deeply shocked by the tragedy but now doing everything possible to support the Eckert family.

The little girl is survived by her heartbroken parents, Andreas and Darlene, her siblings Johannes, Paula and Josef as well as her grandparents and extended family.

It was the second drowning tragedy to involve a Cork child in just four days. On August 12, Avery James Greene (3) from Mallow, Co Cork died after being found floating unresponsive in a pool in a complex at Cabo Roig on the Costa Blanca in Spain.

He was in Spain as part of holiday with his extended family.

Little Avery's funeral arrangements will be confirmed when his remains are repatriated to Ireland.

He is survived by his heartbroken parents, Eric and Amanda, and his siblings, Lucia and Robyn. 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.

"We are hoping that the figure is declining and, in fact, the overall drowning statistics have been going down over recent years."

The IWS boss said they were hoping that, for the first time in the modern era, drownings will drop below the 100 per annum mark.

"Last year we had 103 drownings in Ireland which is the lowest since 1939." Ireland is currently around 10pc below the drowning rate for the same period in 2018.

"We are hoping to break the 100 mark this year. But one death is one death too many," he said.

Mr Leech pointed out that the rate of drownings in Ireland has slowly been reduced thanks to safety campaigns and greater awareness of the dangers posed by water.

The figures are 103 people drowned in 2018 compared to 109 in 2017, 123 in 2016, 133 in 2015, 126 in 2014, 110 in 2013 and 144 in 2012.

One of the worst years on record was 2007 when a total of 168 people drowned.

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