The woman who rescued a toddler from the River Lee has called for better railings to be installed at the water’s edge, writes Kelly O’Brien.
Cobh woman Maria Foley, who is herself a mother to 13 children, selflessly dived into the river on Friday after she witnessed three-year-old Caleb Watters falling in.
The child, whose family lives on the Lower Glanmire Road, was walking through the city at around midday with his au pair, Anna, and his 18-month-old sister Lucia when he darted through railings near the Brian Boru Bridge.
While looking down into the water, Caleb lost his balance and fell roughly five meters down into the river.
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Within seconds, 44-year-old Maria had jumped in after him – a move which likely saved the child’s life.
Maria held on to Caleb, keeping his head above water for roughly five minutes until the emergency services arrived and winched them both to safety.
While both were treated for mild hypothermia, neither Maria nor Caleb was seriously injured.
While this story had a happy ending, Maria said something like this is bound to happen again if railings by the water’s edge are not improved immediately.
Her daughter, Stacey Foley, said this was her mother’s main concern.
“She knows what she done was the bravest thing in the world, but she doesn’t want all this publicity and praise for saving the child, she just wants to get barriers or at least child safety bars,” said Stacey.
“This hasn’t been the first incident in Cork city’s rivers and it won’t be the last. Cork needs to do something about it. That is her main worry.”
Stacey said she is “the proudest daughter in the world” while her brother Kyle described their mother as “a hero”.
While little Caleb Watters spent Friday night in CUH under observation, his mother Adriana said he is back home now and doing well, apart from a cough they need to monitor.
“Caleb is back home and we are all over the moon. We had a big family sleepover in the sitting room Saturday night, to keep an eye on him and also because we felt we should all be together. We pulled all the mattresses and blankets in and had a camp in the sitting room,” said Adriana.
Adriana said she would absolutely support Maria’s call to get more barriers installed at the water’s edge.
“We don’t want anything like this ever to happen again to anyone,” she said.
After her son’s traumatic experience, and Maria’s daring rescue, Adriana felt she needed to do something to say thank you, and decided to set up a fundraising campaign called Fund A True Hero.
So far, the Go Fund Me page has raised more than €2,250.
“Words cannot describe how grateful we are and this is the least we can do,” said Adriana.
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.