Tuesday 17 September 2019

Woman saved after wave sweeps her off cliff on Aran Islands

Caroline Crawford

A YOUNG tourist had a lucky escape after she was swept off a 40ft cliff by a freak wave.

Apu Gupta from Calcutta in India was visiting the largest Aran Island of Inis Mor with her mother when the accident happened.

The pair had visited the wormhole made famous by the Red Bull cliff diving event. But as she took photos of the waves crashing against the cliffs, the young Indian student was swept off the cliff last week.

Seamus McCarthy, an advanced paramedic with the Ennis Ambulance base, who was holidaying with his girlfriend Fionnuala Quigley, witnessed the incident and immediately sprang into action. He told Independent.e that he initially feared the young girl had died.

“She must have fallen 30 or 40ft. We were sure she was gone and then we saw her backpack being washed out to sea. Then the next thing we just saw her at the bottom of the cliff,” said Seamus.

As Fionnuala rushed to get help, Seamus, assisted by a number of other tourists, attempted to reach Apu.

“Her mother was there and she was scrambling down the cliff ledges to get close to her daughter. I could see her limping close to the bottom of the cliff. The waves were still coming in so it was very dangerous. When I reached down I could barely get my fingertips to her,” he said.

Seamus and other visitors tied an army jacket to a rucksack and passed it down to the injured girl.

“She put the rucksack on and tied the bellystrap. As one of the others pulled her up and was able to reach out and grab her,” he added.

Seamus immediately brought Apu to a safe spot and assessed her injuries.

“She was very, very shaken and had a badly fractured ankle, but considering where she fell it was amazing that was all,” he said.

The young student was taken to University Hospital Galway where she was treated for her injured ankle. She remains in hospital but is making a good recovery.

Yesterday Seamus and Fionnuala travelled to the Galway hospital to meet Apu and her parents.

Following the dramatic rescue, Irish Water Safety will present the paramedic with the ‘Seiko Just In Time Award’ for his lifesaving actions.

A spokesperson for Irish Water Safety said: “The video shows just how quickly our powerful aquatic environments can change especially in coastal areas subject to Atlantic swells. It is terribly important to stay away from the edge and to make sure that children receive constant uninterrupted supervision near water.”

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