Friday 23 August 2019

Watch: 'They would have drowned'- Two young girls rescued after man dragged inflatable flamingo 200m to shore

Gerard Tyrrell
Gerard Tyrrell

Mícheál Ó Scannáil

TWO young girls were saved on a Dublin beach after a man dragged their inflatable pink flamingo, which was drifting out to sea, some 200m to the shore.

Gerard Tyrrell, now dubbed 'the Hoff' by friends, swam out the estimated 150-200m and returned the two tourists to safety after dragging their inflatable float back to the beach.

The Malahide man had donned his wetsuit to move crab pots up the coast, because people on the pier had been barbecuing the crustaceans alive, upsetting a lot of onlooking children.

When people he was discussing this with noticed the girls drifting out to sea however, he immediately jumped in and began to swim out to meet them.

"I was chatting to some people on the pier about the crab situation, because there were a lot of kids in the area upset about that, and someone just said 'wow', so I turned around and saw the girls drifting out," he said.

"I swim there a lot so I just jumped in and pulled them over. By the time I was pulling them in the other two guys had arrived so it was good timing more than anything else. I'd say they had floated 150 or 200m off shore. There's an offshore breeze and the thing that they were on has a neck that was acting like a sale and it was pushing them pretty quickly out and the tide was heading out as well.  So there was a bit of a pull out alright.

"When I got to them first, I tried to pull them in and it wasn't moving so I asked them if they could swim and they couldn't. I said 'stay on the raft, don't get off it, and if someone has to call the coastguard, they'll find us'. Because there wasn't much chance they'd miss this big pink flamingo. Once the other guys came out, we started moving a bit and we got them in."

Mr Tyrrell, a physiotherapist in Swords, said that if there was no one on hand to pull the girls back to shore, they would have drowned. Their parents he said, who had very little English, appeared unable to swim.

The girls, who were holidaying in Ireland, he presumed were around five and seven.

"They weren't wearing any buoyancy aids; they were just wearing swimsuits. It's lucky the flamingo didn't pop or it could have been a different situation," he said.

"They could have drowned. There was no way they were swimming back in themselves. There was a fair pull out and they couldn't swim, so they definitely would have drowned if there wasn't someone there to pull them back in.

"They were quite upset at the end of it. I don't think they realised how dangerous it was until they saw other people coming out and loads of people standing around watching them."

Mr Tyrrell's rescue follows a similar event which saw a five-year-old girl in need of rescuing from the same beach last month, when she drifted out on an inflatable lilo.

The seasoned swimmer said that the beach has hidden dangers, especially when a combination of a moving tide, wind and equipment not suitable for the sea are at play.

"It's a combination of equipment that's supposed to be used in a swimming pool and not at sea and also when the tide turns and there is a breeze there, there is a good pull out," he said.

"I've swam along there for years now and you can be a while getting in if you time it wrong. There is a fair current pulling out when the tide changes and when there's a wind combined with that it does make it fairly strong."

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