Woman fights for life after dune collapse

A 19-year-old woman was fighting for her life in hospital last night after being injured when a sand dune collapsed on her in the Dingle Peninsula.

The woman, named locally as Niamh McCarthy from Minane Bridge, Co Cork, was on the dunes with friends in the popular Maharees area when the dune collapsed, trapping her underneath

She was rushed to Kerry General Hospital, Tralee last night for emergency treatment.

It is understood she and her friends were preparing for an outdoor pursuit which involves digging a hole in a sand dune and jumping into it from higher up the slope. This is a relatively popular activity in these dunes.

Initial reports suggest that Ms McCarthy was digging in the hole when the dune shifted. She was trapped for up to 15 minutes while her friends and some local people dug down in an effort to free her.

Onlookers on the nearby beach rushed to her aid and frantically clawed at the sand to pull her free.

Emergency services were called to the scene, known locally as the Back Beach, which is about 40km from Tralee, at about 3.30pm.

Two units of Tralee Fire Brigade, two ambulances, and gardaí were in attendance.

Valentia Coastguard was also alerted.

Desperate attempts were made to resuscitate Ms McCarthy, who was unconscious when paramedics arrived at the scene. Efforts to revive her continued for some time.

A doctor accompanied Ms McCarthy in the ambulance to Kerry General Hospital.

The rescue task was hindered by the fact that the accident occurred in a relatively isolated area, more than half a mile from the main road.

The location is popular with holidaymakers and is used for all sorts of beach-related activities. It is regularly used by campers and surfers.

The dunes in the area where the accident occurred are about 12m high.

The scene was being preserved by gardaí last night.

The tide was out at the time of the accident, meaning ambulances were able to drive on to the beach.

Emergency service personnel praised the people on the beach who had managed to pull the teenager her from the sand.

“They literally had to dig her out but she was there for some time,” said a spokesman.

“They deserve great credit for their efforts.”


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