Video: Irishwoman jumps into river to save young child

The River Lee in Cork city centre, where the incident occured
The River Lee in Cork city centre, where the incident occured

A FEMALE pedestrian was hailed as a hero today after dramatically rescuing a child which had slipped and fallen into the River Lee in Cork city centre.

The three-year-old girl was walking with her au pair at 12 noon in Cork city centre when she suddenly ran forward to gaze at fish swimming in the River Lee.

However, before the au pair could grab her, she had slipped on a wet surface and apparently slid directly beneath safety railings and into the river.

The incident occurred near Brian Ború Bridge, with the nearby streets packed with shoppers, commuters and holiday makers.

A female passerby saw what happened and immediately jumped into the water to rescue the child.

The au pair was also about to jump into the water but was urged by other pedestrians to remain on shore to assist with the rescue.

The brave woman, who is in her 30s, grabbed the child in the water and managed to get to the quay wall which she used as a support to keep both afloat until the emergency services arrived.

Fire brigade officials said that the woman's actions required remarkable quick-thinking and stamina.

A male pedestrian rang the emergency services and stayed on the quay wall above the stranded pair to offer encouragement.

Cork fire brigade units and gardai were at the scene within minutes.

The woman and child were both removed from the river having spent less than five minutes in the water.

Medical treatment was given at the scene to both the woman and little girl.

Both are understood to have avoided serious injury in the incident.

However, as a precautionary measure both were taken by ambulance to the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) for precautionary medical assessment.

The child was uninjured but deeply shocked by her narrow escape.

Both are expected to be discharged this afternoon.

Gardai and Cork fire brigade paid tribute to the incredible courage of the female passerby and stressed that, but for her quick thinking and bravery, the incident could have had a tragic outcome.

The major rescue operation triggered after the accident, including the launch of RNLI lifeboats.

Ralph Riegel