Sunday 19 January 2020

Mother and two young sons make dramatic escape after car slid into river

Castleview Terrace, Cork City. Picture: Google Maps
Castleview Terrace, Cork City. Picture: Google Maps

Rebecca Lumley

A mother and her two young sons were just seconds from drowning when their car slid into a river in Cork.

The car fell into the River Lee close to the port at Cork City’s quays and rapidly began to sink in the water, according to the Irish Examiner.

The childrens’ father and two onlookers quickly jumped into the water and managed to save the family, just before the car was completely submerged.

Witness to the incident, Kathleen Twomey told the newspaper the family were "seconds from being wiped out" and hailed the rescuers as “brave heroes.”

Ms Twomey is a neighbour of the Polish family who had the close encounter.

She told the Examiner: “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. It was so terrible. The scariest thing I’ve ever seen.”

“I thought they were gone because the car was going down so fast. I could see them, the kids in the back and the mother in the passenger seat, trying to get out the side windows. The car was going down fast.

“Only for the guy pulling up in the jeep and helping the dad, they were all gone. It was so scary.”

It is understood that the little boys’ mother had put her children and the family’s pet dog into their car, which they park regularly above a disused slipway at Lower Castleview Terrace, across the road from the home on the Lower Glanmire Road.

The children were in the back seat and the mother was in the passenger seat as the father returned to their house to get something.

Ms Twomey said she was upstairs in her home which overlooks the river and terrace when she heard what sounded like a car revving, followed by screams.

It is as yet unknown what caused the car to move forward, but it is thought that it cleared a low ditch and slid onto a steep, algae-covered slipway.

From there the car rolled into the water.

Ms Twomey recounted: “When I looked out my window, I saw the blue car in the river and I could hear the kids screaming and trying to get out the window. Straight after that, I dialled 999, and explained that I saw the car in the river.

“They said they’d put me on to someone else, and it was ringing and I said ‘Would you please hurry because there’s kids in the car’.”

When he heard the commotion, the father ran from the house and dived into the river. He was joined by a man who had been driving past and a local resident, both of whom jumped in and helped the family out of the car.

Onlookers rallied around the family as they attempted to escape from the river, according to Nicole Bohan, who lives on the terrace beside the slipway.

She told of how residents formed a human chain, passing the children along the chain to safety once they were removed from the car.

Gemma Healey, who also lives on the terrace, described the children’s shock at the incident.

She said: “They just couldn’t stop crying. They were in shock. They got whisked into a house before they could even see if their mother got out. They didn’t calm down until she came into the house to them, and spoke to them.

“But the children are fine. They’re safe and that’s all that matters.”

The men managed to free the children’s mother just as the car sank entirely. They held the car up in the river until the family dog, who had also been in the vehicle, could swim to the surface.

Ms Twomey said the emergency services were on the scene just minutes later, with a Garda car, three ambulances and fire brigade units responding to the call.

The mother and her children were taken to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for treatment and observation. The father was taken to CUH but he did not require treatment. One of the other rescuers require treatment for a minor gash to his arm.

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