Update 2pm: Tributes have poured in for a 12-year old girl who was seriously injured in a boating incident in Limerick last weekend.
She was one of four girls and a boy who were on board a rowing boat that capsized on a stretch of the River Shannon, at Thomond Salmon Weir, last Saturday.
While her four friends were rescued, the girl had been trapped underwater after her hair snagged in the boat’s outriggers used to anchor the oars.
All five were part of a group from Athlunkard Boat Club which headed out on the river, sometime around 9am.
A statement from Athlunkard Boat Club said the group was accompanied by a support boat at the time.
At around 10am the youngsters' rowboat overturned at Thomond Salmon Weir, in fast flowing water, according to an eye witness.
Two members of Limerick City and County Fire and Rescue Service, each trained in water rescues, had been carrying out a routine morning patrol on the river in their emergency response boat and came upon the scene while simultaneously receiving the 999 alert.
They took the girl from the water after cutting her free and they administered emergency first aid while ferrying her to a waiting ambulance.
She was initially brought to University Hospital Limerick but was later transferred to Temple Street Children’s Hospital where she remains in a serious condition Monday.
Gardaí are investigating why the boat overturned. They have also referred the matter to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.
According to a number of sources, the girl had shown small signs of improvement in her condition as doctors continued to monitor her in the Intensive Care Unit at Temple Street.
Tony Cahill, principal of Monaleen National School where the girl has been attending, said he was “heartened” to hear through her family, that they had found comfort from a recording of her favourite songs, a gesture from her teacher and classmates to help aid Amy’s recovery.
“The class teacher actually sent on some songs he knew she really liked for that, and we heard she appeared to be responsive to the music, which was lovely,” Mr Cahill said, Monday.
Offering his best wishes to the girl and her family, he said:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. We are praying that she will continue to improve and make a full recovery.”
Mr Cahill said the school was monitoring how her’s friends and classmates were dealing with the news of her injuries, and a child psychologist has been “consulted”.
“The school are keeping things calm and are reassuring the children that, if any of them are in any way unduly stressed or traumatised or worried, they can talk to myself or any of the teaching staff and we will do whatever is necessary to help and support them.”
“We are just waiting and hoping and praying that she continues to improve, and please god she will be restored to full health, and that she’s able to come back to school and get on with things as usual,” Mr Cahill said.
“It’s so sad and such a pity that such a thing like this would happen.”
It remains unclear if the young rowers involved had access to life jackets or other flotation devices.
Reliable sources in rowing and water activity circles said rowers do not normally wear life jackets as this can interfere with their rowing stroke.
Under Section 3 (3) of the statutory instruments Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation (Safety) Regulations, the use of personal safety flotation devices “do not apply rowers in boats which are (a) designed and specifically used for rowing in boat races and which are capable of being entered into regatta or other events recognised by the Irish Amateur Rowing Union.”
Update 7.45am: The capsize of a boat in Limerick, in which a girl was seriously injured, is being referred to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.
Gardaí are also investigating after the boat overturned at Weir on the Abbey River on Saturday morning.
The row-boat which overturned at Thomond Salmon Weir, was carrying five members of a local Boat Club, including four girls and a boy.
The boat was being chaperoned by a support boat at the time and it's unclear what caused it to capsize.
One of the party, a 12-year-old girl, was freed by a rescue crew after getting trapped beneath the boat, and was rushed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment.
She has since been transferred to Temple Street Children's Hospital in Dublin, where she remains in 'serious condition'.
Limerick gardaí say an investigation into the incident is ongoing and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board will begin an investigation from today.