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Drowning girl rescue teens hailed as heroes

THREE boys have been hailed as heroes after rescuing a teenage girl who was lying face down in the sea.

The girl – Shelomith Freeman (13) – remains in intensive care in Temple Street Children's Hospital.

Her mum Jennifer gave heartfelt thanks to the 14-year-old boys who rescued her daughter at Balbriggan Harbour last week.

Jennifer said: "If it was not for them she could have died. They have saved her life. I thank them and God bless them, I hope they have a wonderful future."

Emergency workers said the intervention by the teens was critical. "If it wasn't for their quick thinking and actions, it could have been a very different story," said a spokesperson for Skerries Coastguard.

One of the three who went to Shelomith's rescue was David Grant. He said he and his mates, Alex May and Ben Graham, had spent the afternoon "lying in the sun and jumping off the pier in Balbriggan as we usually do on a sunny day".

It was 6pm last Wednesday and the boys were about to leave.

"We saw a group of girls shouting up to us that their friend was drowning," said David. "I just jumped in and went over to her.

"She was unconscious and lying down in the water. I grabbed her and began to bring her over to the steps."

Alex jumped in after him and the two boys held her up out of the water as they swam 20 metres to the pier wall. A local fisherman provided a harness to help lift her up onto the pier and then Ben Graham did compressions to get any water out of her.

Ben had also tried to throw a life-saver down to his friends, but said the rope was knotted up and not long enough to reach down into the water.

Ben estimated that Shelomith was in about 1.5m of water.

It also emerged that Ben's mum, Louise, had insisted that her children know how to swim after she nearly drowned 21 years ago.

"I have not swum since and said that my children would all learn how to swim. I am so proud of him for what he did," she said.

David's father, also called David, said: "He's a hero. I believe he saved the girl's life. If he hadn't gone in, she would have been dead within minutes."

David also revealed that when his son was just 16 months old he survived meningitis. He became very ill in the middle of the night and David gave him an antibiotic that was intended for an adult.