An 11-year-old owes his life to the quick response of two recently retired lifeboat members and the expertise of the emergency services.
The incident at Youghal harbour yesterday saw the boy airlifted to Cork University Hospital after spending three minutes underwater.
His younger brother was also saved after getting into difficulty minutes earlier.
The boys were among a group swimming in the relatively calm waters at Nealon’s Quay, close to the town centre.
Shortly after 2pm, David O’Sullivan, on a family holiday from Fair Hill, Cork, pulled a boy aged about nine from the water after seeing him in difficulty.
Ten minutes later, Mr O’Sullivan saw the boy’s 11-year-old brother disappear under the water.
“But his friends said he was just holding his breath and was OK, so I hesitated,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
When the boy did not resurface, Mr O’Sullivan and another man jumped into the water “but we couldn’t see anything”, he recalls.
Fortunately brothers Seán and David Slattery, recent retirees from the Youghal lifeboat service, were alerted to the incident while drinking in the nearby Quay’s bar.
They located the boy “lying motionless on the bottom of the seabed”, says David, who “feared the worst”.
Coastguard Officer-in-Charge Michael Lee summoned Coastguard Rescue 117 helicopter, which arrived from Waterford within 10 minutes.
A large crowd watched paramedics tending to the boy as the helicopter circled. The boy was able to talk to medical staff as he was airlifted to CUH.
His condition was later described as “not life-threatening”, but he was detained overnight for observation.
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