Children rescued from car sinking in River Lee

Children rescued from car sinking in River Lee

Two young children had to be rescued from a sinking car when their drunken father parked on a slipway beside the River Lee to listen to music and stepped out without putting on the handbrake.

Both parents have pleaded guilty to neglecting their children, aged two and four, on the occasion.

Inspector Ann Marie Twomey described the background to the incident at Cork District Court.

Gardaí received a report after 8pm on June 24, 2017, of a car having gone into the River Lee with three people on board. 

Witnesses said the car was parked on top of the slipway to the river near the Ferryboat Inn on Lower Glanmire Rd.

“The vehicle moved forward with a woman and two children inside. The vehicle lowered into the river. It floated on the water for approximately a minute,” said Insp Twomey.

“During this time the defendant and another man broke the window of the car which allowed all the occupants to escape. 

"On arrival of the gardaí, the vehicle was completely submerged in the water.

“Gardaí spoke to the defendants at the scene at Lower Glanmire Rd. 

"They observed both were unsteady on their feet and that there was a strong smell of alcohol from their breath.

“Gardaí formed the opinion that they were intoxicated to such an extent they were incapable of providing care for their two young children. 

"All were removed from the scene to the Mercy University hospital having been in the water for a number of minutes,” said Insp Twomey.

The mother and father were both charged with being incapable of caring for their two children due to intoxication, thereby exposing the children to be neglected in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering to the children’s health or seriously affect their wellbeing contrary to the Children’s Act.

The 40-year-old man and 29-year-old woman pleaded guilty to the neglect of their children and were sentenced by Judge Olann Kelleher to nine-month suspended jail terms.

Frank Buttimer, solicitor, agreed with the judge’s description of this neglect being an extremely serious matter.

“It is acknowledged that they created a direct risk to the life of all the occupants of the car and that this was an endangerment of the most serious kind,” he said.

They pulled into the slipway on the afternoon and they were not familiar with the area. They pulled in to listen to music.

"The two children were aged four (boy) and two (girl) at the time. There was also a dog in the car.”

He said they were listening to music and were observed by local residents because the car was not secured by handbrake or by being in gear due to the consumption of alcohol.

“The car began to slip into the river. He (the father) was outside the car having stepped out a moment earlier. He realised the danger. 

"In a panic he tried to hold the car. He was not succeeding in this. He was assisted by another man on the scene. 

"The car was going further into the river and it submerged. He smashed the window.

“With the assistance of this man who came to his assistance they managed to extricate his partner from the car and the kids were taken out and made safe.

“He went back to the car and got the dog also. The car then sank into the river.

“The emergency services attended. The children were subsequently assessed and put into care.”

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