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Father of tragic drowning victim tells how he tried to save her

Michaela Gonda
Michaela Gonda

The devastated father of the little girl who tragically drowned at a south Dublin swimming pool on Friday has spoken of his desperate attempt to save her.

Mike Gonda, the father of nine-year-old Michaela, who died in the horrific incident at the Community School Sports Complex in Balrothery, Tallaght, told how he “jumped into the pool to save her”.

“I would do anything for her,” he added.

Michaela, an only child, who was originally from the Philippines, had been living in the local area in Tallaght with her mother and father.

She had been taking part in a swimming class with other youngsters when her parents suddenly realised they couldn’t see her.

“She was at her swimming class yesterday and myself and my wife Yvonne were watching her,” her dad recalled. She was calling ‘mammy, look at me’ ‘daddy, can you see me swimming?’ and we were watching her.

“Then she disappeared and we couldn’t see her anymore. My wife asked ‘where’s Michaela?’ and I ran over to the pool where I saw her underwater.

“I jumped into the pool to save her, I would do anything for her.”

However, despite attempts to revive Michaela at the poolside, she was pronounced dead a short time later at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin.

Her heartbroken father described her as a happy, loving, smart child.
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“She loved singing, swimming, cycling, dancing,” he said. “She was very active. We’d buy her anything she wanted because she was our only child.”

Mr Gonda said that Michaela was born with a heart problem and had two heart surgeries in her short life.

“She had heart surgery at four-months-old and in 2015. She never complained about anything.

“Even though she was turning 10 soon, she would sleep in beside me and my wife every night and would hold our hands together. I really miss her so much.”

Gardaí say they are treating the incident as a sudden death. A post mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death.

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