Hero Fabien picks up People of the Year Award

Simon Brouder

TRALEE man Fabien Lugundu, who risked his life to save a young bay and his mother who had fallen into a river in Tralee, has received a 2013 People of the Year Award in recognition of his selfless bravery.

On January 8 last Liz O'Brien, a mother of four, had collected her three older children from Tralee's CBS primary school and was on her way back to their grandmother's house taking a well-known short cut along what is known as "The Big River" when her ten year old son Derek fell into the water.

Ms O'Brien, who was six months' pregnant at the time immediately leapt into the water to save her son but while she managed to reach him the pair couldn't escape the river and were left clinging to a small bridge for safety.

Thankfully dad of four Fabien Lugunadu (56) and his son Joe were nearby and heard Liz O'Brien's screams for help. He raced to the scene and without a moment's hesitation he dived into the river to save the terrified mother and son.

For his bravery and courage Fabien, who lives at Cherry Court in Manor, was presented with a People of The Year Award in Dublin's City West Hotel on Saturday night. He was joined on stage by his 13 year old son Joe who was also at the scene of the potentially tragic accident and helped his father rescue Liz and Derek O'Brien from the river.

Accepting the award a modest Fabien Lugundu, who is originally from Tanzania, said that when he saw the O'Briens and the danger they were in, he didn't have time to think about what was happening.

"When you see someone in trouble sometimes you don't really think about what you are doing you just do it," he said.