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Driver (86) 'lucky to be alive' as car falls 20ft into river

A PENSIONER had a lucky escape after his car plunged 20ft into a river.

The incident occurred after Anthony Harvey (86) had left a shop in Kilmaley, Co Clare, and returned to his vehicle.

Mr Harvey was sitting in the Suzuki preparing to drive home when the vehicle suddenly lunged forward through a fence and down the river bank.

The car came to a stop after it hit the opposite bank but remained upright.

Village shop owner Laurence O'Brien said: "I was in the office when my six-year-old son Alex came running in and said there was a car in the river.

"To be honest, at first, I didn't believe him but I went outside anyway."

Several locals and a passing nurse witnessed the accident and jumped into the action. A number of men climbed down the riverbank and others raised the alarm.

Three units of the fire brigade from Ennis, including members of their specially water rescue team, raced to the scene. Fire crews and paramedics climbed down the bank to check on Mr Harvey who was conscious and appeared uninjured.

They helped the dazed driver from his car and assisted him up the bank where paramedics were waiting with a stretcher.


Mr Harvey, who walks with the aid of a stick, was assessed in the ambulance and was allowed go home once a relative arrived to collect him.

As fire crews used winching equipment to haul the car from the river, Mr Harvey was overheard saying to one firefighter: "Have ye the car out yet so I can drive home?"

Mr O'Brien said: "That river was so high last week that the field next to it was flooded. It had to have been 10 feet higher that it is today. He was very lucky and thankfully he's alright."

Mrs Susan O'Brien said: "He had just been in the shop and had bought his few bits and we were chatting. He left the shop to go home and next we knew the car was in the river."

A local man said: "I couldn't believe it. I didn't even see the hole in the fence at first. It sounds to be like he might have thought he was in reverse but was in first gear. He's a lucky man."